Rider professor, alumnus help fight COVID by making PPE with 3D printers

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Rider professor Dr. John Bochanski prints ventilator splitters.PHOTOS COURTESY OF RIDER UNIVERSITY
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Rider University alumnus Jacob Ezzo, Class of 2014, prints face shields.PHOTOS COURTESY OF RIDER UNIVERSITY
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Rider professor Dr. John Bochanski prints ventilator splitters.PHOTOS COURTESY OF RIDER UNIVERSITY
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Rider University alumnus Jacob Ezzo, Class of 2014, prints face shields.PHOTOS COURTESY OF RIDER UNIVERSITY

It’s no secret that there is a shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE) for doctors and nurses, as well as ventilators for the patients that they treat as COVID-19 continues to spread.

That’s why a Rider University professor and a Rider University alumnus, each in his own community, are using 3D printers to manufacture medical equipment to help health care professionals and patients alike to cope with COVID-19.

Professor John Bochanski, who chairs Rider University’s Department of Computer Science and Physics, borrowed a 3D printer to manufacture eight splitters for Capital Health Systems in Mercer County.

Through a friend, Bochanski learned of a website that provided access to 3D printer plans to create ventilator splitters. A splitter allows two patients to share a ventilator, which helps them to breathe.

Bochanski received permission from Rider University to bring home one of its 3D printers. The physics professor, who admitted that he is not an expert in 3D printing, started to make the splitters.

A colleague – Rider University biology professor Jonathan Yavelow – suggested to Bochanski that he should approach Capital Health Systems to see if it needed splitters. Capital Health Systems operates hospitals in Trenton and Hopewell Township.

Following Yavelow’s advice, Bochanski reached out to Capital Health Systems officials. The supply chain director told him that Capital Health Systems could use eight splitters, which would only be used in a worst-case scenario.

“As we are seeing in New York City, (a shortage of ventilators) may be a possibility,” Bochanski said.

Although he has met Capital Health Systems’ goal, Bochanski said he would continue to print ventilator splitters. He hopes to deliver the splitters to other hospitals in Mercer County.

“This project is really just an example of how we can use the resources we have at Rider University to give back to our communities,” Bochanski said.

Meanwhile, in northern New Jersey, Rider University graduate Jacob Ezzo is using his own 3D printer to make face shields for hospital workers.

Ezzo, who graduated from Rider University in 2014, bought a 3D printer earlier this year and was going to use it as a hobby. He is the choral director at South Orange Middle School.

But when Ezzo learned that a 3D printing company was using its equipment to make PPE, he decided to use his own 3D printer to do the same thing.

Ezzo used Budmen Industries’ open-source design for face shields. He had made more than 400 face shields in the last few weeks, and his printer has been running nonstop around the clock since March 22.

Not content to print face shields on his own, Ezzo reached out through his Facebook group, SOMA NJ3D Printers Alliance, and enlisted the help of about 60 people who have access to 3D printers. They have joined the effort and they are printing homemade PPE and delivering them to hospitals in northern New Jersey.

“I’m used to organizing groups of people, as a choral director. To not have that, day in and day out, left me feeling a little helpless,” Ezzo said.

Acknowledging that there is little that people can do during the pandemic except to sit home, Ezzo said that creating the face shields was an “easy way” for him to help alleviate some of the issues that health care providers are facing, such as the shortage of PPE.

Ezzo and his team have delivered 150 face shields to hospitals in northern New Jersey, and will push out about 250 more face shields for fire departments and emergency medical units in northern New Jersey.

Ezzo said he would like to begin delivering face shields to hospitals in central New Jersey and southern New Jersey. He plans to continue creating PPE for medical personnel and emergency responders.

“The end goal is when this pandemic is over,” Ezzo said.