Skip navigation links

April 15, 2020

Spartan staffers convert their home's guest room to 3D-print medical supplies

Many MSU employees are using the weeks of Stay Home, Stay Safe to make home improvements, but Jon and Cora Walby have found a special way to add good karma to their house during the Michigan quarantine.

The two staffers from the Division of Engineering Computing Services, or DECS, in the College of Engineering have joined MSU’s collaborative effort to create critically needed personal protection equipment for medical personnel.

The couple converted the guest room in their Lansing home into a 3D printing gallery and are working around the clock in the fight against the novel coronavirus.

“We knew the 3D printers were just sitting in the DECS support office so we rearranged our guest room to house the 3D printers, spools of filament and the other items we needed,” said Jon Walby, a systems administrator in DECS. “We started printing hard-plastic headbands for medical face masks about two weeks ago.”

Cora Walby, who is an administrative assistant in DECS, said having the 3D printers in their home has made the print cycles very efficient.  

“Jon can send a job as soon as one finishes or correct a print if it is failing. And we can have them printing over night as well,” she said.

So far, they have printed and delivered about 60 sets of the headbands that will have a clear plastic shield attached to them for protective head gear for medical workers. 

Jon said they are able to print about 16 to 20 headbands a day. Jon handles the 3D printers and Cora cleans up the pieces and gets them ready for delivery. 

Cora said the headbands come off the printers in need of some finishing work. 

“There were some rough edges that needed to be sanded down so as not to snag gloves or rub the wearer’s skin,” she explained. “I've been helping Jon with the sanding, washing, labeling, packaging and delivering of the headbands. Having both of us working on them has let us process more and get them to the next step faster,” she added.

“Cora has been a huge help,” Jon continued. “I brought the printers to our house so that I could keep a closer eye on the progress, process parts as they finish and start the next job. It also minimizes my trips to campus and being out of my house in general.”

Their goal is to deliver about 100 headbands a week to Nathan Tykocki, assistant professor of pharmacology and toxicology in the College of Osteopathic Medicine, who is heading up a collaborative effort at MSU. 

Volunteers in a number of colleges have been working together for several weeks to supply health workers on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic. Brian Wright, in the Department of Electrical and Computing Engineering, is another Spartan engineer helping in this campus wide effort.

“I deliver them to a bin in front of Nathan’s house, where he collects the parts to assemble, clean and deliver to a collection point at MSU for further distribution,” Jon said. “I think it is truly inspiring to see the outpouring of support this project has received both from campus and as a worldwide effort to do what we can to help during this global crisis. I'm really proud that I can be a part of the project and to be able to contribute whatever I can.”

Cora added, “We have family and friends in health care, some working in emergency rooms in Lansing and Detroit. We're more than happy and willing to do what we can in supporting and keeping all health care workers safe during this time.”

By: Patricia Mroczek

Media Contacts