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Hub for Good

Meet Shane. Shane Storring is a Carleton graduate (BEng/03; MASc/06) and professor of applied arts and technology at Northern College. Working out of the Timmins campus—in his hometown—Shane teaches in the Mechanical Engineering Technician/Technology program and helps maintain the College’s advanced manufacturing and prototyping labs, which include CNC machines, laser cutters and 3D printers.

Described lovingly by his friends and family as extremely intelligent, hardworking and humble, Shane is the type of person who goes out of his way to help others without expecting anything in return.

It came as no surprise to his friends and family, then, that Shane started looking for ways to help out as soon as Ontario universities and schools began to close as a result of COVID-19.

Alumnus Shane Storring testing a 3D-printed face shield headband.

“I knew that European countries were already experiencing Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) shortages,” Shane explains. “So, I started researching how European companies were managing and addressing those shortages.

“One area that immediately grabbed my attention was the production of face shields using 3D printed headbands,” Shane recalls. “Since I own several 3D printers at home and help manage the 3D printing facility at the College, I decided to start experimenting by printing open-source designs to test their viability.”

Serendipitously, the local Emergency Medical Service (EMS) approached the College soon after, asking the College to produce PPEs for use in the field. But their case, Shane says, was unique.

He explains: “They didn’t need face shields; they had enough of those. But because the face shields used by the EMS are bigger and heavier than what is typically used in a hospital setting, they didn’t have enough headbands that fit their shields.”

So, Shane got to work. He modified the existing open-source design to create a new headband that could safely support the thicker face shield and ensure a snug fit to the wearer’s head. After working through several iterations of the headband design—taking into account strength, fit, comfort and manufacturability with the 3D printers—he landed on a model that worked.

“Once I had constructed 3D models of the headband and had successfully modified 3D printing settings to minimize printing time, I consulted with my colleagues on the Applied Research team about production. Knowing that the need for PPEs would only grow with time, I wanted to make sure we would be able to mass produce the headbands using our 3D printers at the College.”

3D-printed face shield headbands designed by Shane.

And that need for PPEs, Shane suspected, would be particularly pronounced in his home community of Timmins.

“We’re a relatively small and isolated community in Northeastern Ontario,” Shane explains. “I knew that if there was a shortage of PPEs in Canada, that it may be even more difficult for our community to secure our own PPEs.”

Shane’s motivation to help out, he says, is driven by his desire to protect and thank the individuals who are working tirelessly to keep his community safe.

“I feel extremely fortunate to be able to work safely at home with my children beside me,” he shares. “I have several friends who don’t have that option—they are frontline workers. Some of them have made the difficult decision to live away from their own children to protect them in case of infection. 

“I just felt compelled to do what I could to help those people—the people who are risking their lives to save others. The most rewarding aspect of the work that I’m doing is knowing that the headbands will be used by our first responders and will help keep them safe.”

Shane and his collaborators have made great strides, but the work isn’t over.

“We just finished delivering 75 custom headbands to the local EMS,” Shane shares. “The College has since received requests for hundreds more, to be used in medical facilities around the region. We’ve simplified the design even further so it can be produced faster; the Applied Research team has been working hard to set up all the printers at the College so we can start mass producing the headbands.”

Although it’s hard work—particularly as he continues to teach his classes virtually and helps his wife homeschool his children—Shane believes that we all have to find ways to help out.

“We are all in this together. We are stronger together. I believe that. Everyone has a part to play if we are going to successfully beat the virus.”

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