WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. — Eric Albert is an associate professor of automated manufacturing and machining at Penn College in Williamsport. Like many professors around the country, Albert is teaching the rest of the spring semester online. One of the classes he is teaching is about 3-D printers.
"When we're in a situation like we are now where we need to produce custom parts and maybe lots of different things, additive manufacturing is one of the technologies that helps. It's not fast, but it's very flexible," said Prof. Albert.
Albert is practicing what he preaches. Last week, he made more than two dozen face shields, which are being given to area nursing homes.
"It takes about two to three hours to print one visor, so it's not fast, but it's pennies. The plastic is not expensive."
Albert is also 3-D printing some items he hopes won't need to be used. He is printing ventilator splitters, which would allow a facility to connect more than one patient to a ventilator. Ventilators are intended for single-patient use, and the vent splitter would be used in an emergency situation.
"That is not something that is a front-line choice. You would do that only if you were in a situation that you do not have facilities and time."
Albert is waiting to find out where to send the splitters he manufactured. He says he is ready to make more if need be.
"We could actually produce a larger quantity of those in a hurry because they're smaller parts, and you can fit more on the plate."
Albert retires from Penn College in August after 30 years. He tells Newswatch 16 this wasn't how he anticipated spending his last weeks here, but he proud to play a role in the fight against COVID-19.