Purdue University produces PPE with 3M

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Figure 1: Purdue University staff and graduate students in the Bechtel Innovation Design Center are using equipment such as 3D printers to produce medical supplies for hospitals.

The Purdue University of Indiana has produced thousands of pieces of personal protective equipment (PPE) with the raw materials donated by 3M, an American multinational conglomerate corporation.

A roll-on-roll machine in a cleanroom at Brick Nanotechnology Center built by Mukerrem Cakmak, Professor of Materials and Mechanical Engineering is used in manufacturing.

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Figure 1: Purdue University staff and graduate students in the Bechtel Innovation Design Center are using equipment such as 3D printers to produce medical supplies for hospitals.

Health care items like transparent face shields and eyeglass inserts could easily be made by simple laser-cut by the machine in Cakmak’s lab but quarantine made it difficult to locate enough raw material necessary to manufacture the PPE. At that time some Purdue alumni working at 3Min Minnesota stepped up.

“We manufacture a lot of polyester substrate for our window films. This transparent material is perfect for face shields and other similar items; all we had to do was cut it into 9.5-inch rolls. We ended up sending Purdue about 17,000 square yards of this material,” said Jeffrey Kehoe, lean value stream engineer, and a 2010 Purdue graduate in chemical engineering.

“It was just the shot in the arm we needed. We are so grateful to 3M for this amazing gift,” Chakmak said.

A Purdue team of nearly 40 faculty and staff members began production immediately the materials arrived at Purdue. The rolls of clear film are fed through a laser-cutting apparatus, which instantly perforates the exact shape of the face shield. Once assembled, the finished pieces are freely distributed to health care facilities throughout Indiana.

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Figure 2: Purdue University faculty and staff have begun producing medical supplies to deliver to hospitals in Indiana.

With three volunteers- research scientist Nick Glassmaker, Research Engineer Joon Park, and research engineer Guy Telesnicki the machine are running nine hours a day; each works a three-hour shift. More than 4,000 face shields can be made each day, according to Chakmak. Since the project began in March, more than 25,000 pieces of PPE have been distributed to health facilities and first responders.

Purdue University is a top public research institution developing practical solutions to today’s toughest challenges. Ranked the No. 6 Most Innovative University in the United States by U.S. News & World Report, Purdue delivers world-changing research and out-of-this-world discovery.