ST. JOHN'S, N.L. — Like most youth in Newfoundland and Labrador and the rest of Canada, Caleb Anstey has nothing but time on his hands these days.
Fortunately, he can devote some of that free time to help those in the thick of fighting against the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Grade 9 student from Brookside Intermediate in Portugal Cove-St. Philip's came across an interesting health-care project through a teacher at his former elementary school, Laun Shoemaker from Beachy Cove Elementary. The teacher came across a company in Ontario, InkSmith, looking for people to use their own 3-D printers to produce head straps to be used on face shields. The company would accept the straps by mail, assemble the shields and donate them to hospitals and health-care providers.
"I saw that he had posted that he had printed one," Caleb said.
He knows of cases where 3-D printers have even been used to print ventilators for hospitals, but said those projects require high-precision printers.
"I couldn't get on board with that, but I wanted to do something that could help the front-line workers," he said. "When I saw (the straps), I knew that I could print that and wanted to help as much as I could."
In the past, Caleb has used his 3-D printer for school projects. He looked after printing a remotely-operated vehicle for an underwater robotics competition, and last November he printed a full remote-control boat for a boatbuilding competition that his school placed first in.
The straps he's printing will attach to a clear personal-protective equipment sheet that InkSmith produces. In addition to the shields with 3-D printed straps (called the Community Shield), the company is ramping up production on a line of face shields for commercial sale. Caleb says approximately 2,000 Community Shields have been produced with help from people with 3-D printers.
Caleb can produce six straps per day with his printer. He's planning to send out his first batch in the mail next Monday and anticipates having 50 straps finished by then. His school donated four spools of printing filament to Caleb, which will allow him to print an additional 120 straps for shields. It takes approximately 2 1/2 hours to print each strap.
"It's not just something to do, but something to help the people that need help right now and are helping the people that also need help," he said.