When Shippensburg University Army ROTC Cadet Will Lamont received a 3D printer for Christmas several years ago from his parents, he had no idea the impact that gift would have in gifting others in the future. Recently, it has allowed him to provide his own “gifts” to others by crafting medical face shields for local area first responders.
Lamont said he initially planned on using the printer to make trinkets and gifts for friends and family. But he recently got the idea that he could make something possibly even more life changing.
“I first started making masks because I knew that I could eventually find someone who needed them. After printing for a few days, I remembered my neighbor worked at a look ER so I sent her a message to see if she could use some,” he said. “I got a message back from her saying ‘absolutely.’ I quickly dropped off the 25 I had at her doorstep.
“After news started to spread about what I was doing I got too many orders to handle. I then found a local group called the Phoenixville Area COVID 19 Makers that could help me fill my excess orders and provide me with materials to keep going at no cost to anyone receiving the face shields, he added.
Lamont explained that making something so desperately needed by emergency personnel responding to the COVID-19 virus is worth the work that goes into it.
“To make the face shield, I downloaded a 3D model from online that someone else had designed. I then run it through a slicing software on my computer that basically creates code for my 3D printer to run, telling it things like speed, temperature, where to move the nozzle to, and various other things. I then put the code onto an SD card and insert that into the printer,” he explained. “I then let the nozzle and printing surface heat up to temperature, and then level the nozzle to the printing surface. I then select the file to print on the printer an off it goes.
“I only have to do the leveling and printing steps every time I print - I don’t have to touch my computer anymore. Once the print is done, I take the two face shields I printed and wipe them down with isopropyl alcohol,” he went on to share. “I then take a clear projector sheet and punch six holes in one side of it and wipe that down with isopropyl alcohol. I then attach the sheet to the visor I printed and set it in the box. It takes an hour and twenty-eight minutes for me to print two, so about 40 minutes per face shield.”
Since he began Lamont has spent hundreds of hours printing out masks.
“It takes me about one or two hours to set up the printer, and it runs about 18 to 20 hours per day,” Lamont said. “I have printed around 400 face shields, and the group I have partnered with has made and donated a total of 11,682 face shields with another 4,280 on order,” he said.
Lamont, who was in the New York National Guard, said he decided to try out ROTC when he started college because of recommendations from Brig. Gen. John Andonie, of the New York National Guard and a family friend, as well as from his father who is an ROTC alumnus. He said he feels the lessons he’s learned as a result spurred on his desire for volunteerism.
“ROTC and the Army both teach selfless service and helping out your community, so I think they have also reinforced what I learned at a younger age of helping the community,” he said. “ROTC taught me leadership and values: to do things for the good of others, not to get things in return.”
Lamont had some words of advice for anyone who finds themselves facing a challenging situation.
“Whenever there is a bad situation don’t gloom over it, look and see how you can help improve it,” he said. “Just hang in there, everything comes to an end at some point. There will be a time and place that we can all meet up again and enjoy the activities we used to before all of this.”