Local News

3D printing face masks for COVID-19 response

17 N2007P18007HDuring and after the Industrial Revolution, mass-production manufacturing was birthed and nurtured to provide the large quantities of increasingly complex devices and machines required by a burgeoning population and mechanized society.

Techniques of scale were developed to harness the investment of money, materials and personnel to achieve the goal of mass-producing effectively in cost and time.

As successful as this revolution was in meeting the new demands of society, industrialization required a shift from the individualized output of artisans to the standardized output of factories.

It also necessitated the construction of concentrated plants to the detriment of distributed cottages — two outcomes that are ill-suited to the adaptability required during sudden and massive crises, such as the unpredicted onslaught of COVID-19.

Enter 3D printing. Three years ago, I realized the potential of 3D printing to recapture the lost benefits of artisanship and cottage industry: the ability to make just what you need, when you need it and where you need it.

When global transportation is impeded, all the high-tech factories of the world are of little value, and citizens must return to the time-honored traditions of local production.
3D printing, while still in its natal stages, provides a pathway to local production-on-demand better and faster than ever before.

Fortunately, Fayetteville Technical Community College’s Simulation and Game Development department already had a functioning 3D printing lab when COVID-19 first threatened society and the modern supply chain that underpins it.

As everyone is painfully aware, an unprecedented demand for protective face masks in the pandemic’s wake quickly led to such a complete dearth of this relatively simple piece of gear that the entire medical response to COVID-19 was imperiled.

While anyone can fashion a mask of basic materials, medical personnel require a more standardized and effective device.

The members of my department were quick to respond and create, and the FTCC administration quick to endorse, a start-up mask production facility utilizing the equipment of our 3D printing lab.

What these dedicated faculty accomplished with no preparation is impressive.

We began reading about attempts to print PPE for front-line medical workers and went through dozens of designs and assembly routines, partnering with the Fayetteville Police Department and Cape Fear Valley Medical Center to ensure the most effective design possible.

Eventually, we came up with something that was quick to print, effective at preventing viral penetration and doable on our improvised assembly line.

We assembled approximately 700 masks and face shield supports, along with a thousand strap holders to relieve ear strain from constant mask wear.

We were able to get each mask to print in just over an hour. We had 10 printers printing 24/7. We peaked at around 75 masks per day, plus other items such as inserts, strap holders and
face shields.

In the end, we donated printed gear to Cape Fear Valley Medical Center, local essential workers, and students, faculty and staff on campus.

The masks can theoretically be worn indefinitely, as long as they are properly sanitized after usage.

Learn more about the exciting Simulation and Game Development program at FTCC at faytechcc.edu. Fall eight-week classes begin Oct.15.

Army museum observes 20th anniversary

10 5790754115 c4315f7cc3 oFayetteville’s Airborne & Special Operations Museum celebrates its 20th anniversary this month. Since its opening in August 2000, the museum has been visited by nearly 3 million visitors, according to Museum Foundation Executive Director Renee Lane.

She noted the occasion is “vastly different than we had planned.”

There are no flags around Iron Mike to welcome visitors and no music, food trucks or parachute jumps because of COVID-19. “We are celebrating virtually ... in the last few weeks, we provided many memorable moments on social media from when construction started right down to the ribbon-cutting ceremony 20 years ago.” The facility has been closed since March. “Sustaining our mission without visitors has strained us financially,” Lane said.

Military mental health care lacking

09 N1911P30005CA new Pentagon report says thousands of troops and family members may not have access to mental health care through their military or civilian health care providers. The Defense Department Inspector General found patients seeking outpatient mental health treatment often experienced delays or never obtained care at all due to inconsistencies in standards, staffing and other shortcomings in the military’s health system.

In 2017, almost 14% of troops, or just over 200,000, were diagnosed with mental health disorders. The report said delays in getting service members care could affect readiness. Auditors examined appointment booking and referral data at 13 military treatment facilities from December 2018 to June 2019. The inspector general’s office said an average of 53% of service members and their families served by Tricare in the United States did not receive mental health care after getting referrals. Health officials in charge of tracking their care could not say why, the IG said.

The Defense Health Agency agreed to develop a single systemwide staffing approach that estimates the number of appointments and personnel required to meet the demand for mental health. The agency will also establish a standard process for mental health assessments tailored to patients’ needs, officials said in their response.

County Commissioner named to statewide organization

08 evanscharles1528Cumberland County Commissioner Charles Evans has been elected president of the North Carolina Association of Black County Officials. He was sworn in during the organization’s virtual meeting Aug. 15.

“I am grateful and honored to be representing the citizens of Cumberland County on a state board, and I appreciate the vote of confidence by my peers on the North Carolina Association of Black County Officials board,” said Evans, who has also served as the second and first vice president for the organization.

Evans was elected to the Cumberland County Board of Commissioners as an at-large representative in 2010 and re-elected in 2014 and 2018. He served two terms on the Fayetteville City Council from 2005-2009. Evans was born in Fayetteville and attended Terry Sanford High School and Fayetteville Technical Community College. He is a disabled veteran.

Pictured: Commissioner Charles Evans

New state agency to examine criminal justice in North Carolina

07 Rep John SzokaState Rep. John Szoka, R-Cumberland, has been chosen to co-chair the House Select Committee on Community Relations, Law Enforcement, and Justice. The committee is comprised of legislators and various members of the public.

“It will examine North Carolina’s criminal justice systems to propose methods of improving police training and relations between law enforcement and its communities,” Szoka said. “I am ... eager to work with my team to identify policy reforms that help overcome discrimination, excessive force, and corruption in the North Carolina criminal justice system.”

Sixteen members of the North Carolina House of Representatives, including Elmer Floyd and Billy Richardson of Fayetteville, will serve on the committee. Thirteen others have been named to the group, including Cumberland County district attorney Billy West.
Pictured: Rep. John Szoka


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