Proctor High School industial tech class using 3D printing to make ventilator parts for hospitals

Updated: April 06, 2020 06:30 PM

A Northland school is joining the cause many are doing to help hospitals by making important and high demand equipment to treat COVID-19 patients thanks to modern technology and generosity from students and teachers.


Tyler Blom is a Industrial Arts teacher at Proctor High School and is leading an effort with his students to manufacture ventilator parts by using 3D printers.

What better way to teach students about industrial tech then by joining an effort to help hospitals in need of medicial supplies.

"I don't think that I can come up with a more real life scenario than to have a student 3D printing quadruple ventilator splitters so overall it's a great project," said Blom.

Blom heard about the effort from his colleagues after getting an email from the Minnesota Technology and Engineering Educators Association.

A website called Colorado Makers Unite has step by step instructions on how to make quad and dual ventilator splitters by using 3D printers.

The ventilator splitter design was made by a man named Kevin Low of Gecko Robotics. The design allows one ventilator to be used by two or four patients.

Blom's students were more than thrilled to join the cause.

"It's kind of exciting I cant wait to start printing more after I get this one done. I am excited to help other people," Aaron Nicolson, a student.

Blom said students like Nicolson are building the quads while he focuses on the dual splitters. They are making the parts from home during the distance learning transition.

Nicolson said he can make four to five parts in a day. It take about seven hours to make two parts. Blom said he's making the splitters every three hours.

Once they're done they inspect them to make sure they have the proper shape and measurements. 

The medical pieces will be sent to Project C.U.R.E a worldwide distributor of medical equipment. Blom said they'll ship their parts to the Project C.U.R.E. Chicago which is in Woodridge, Illinois. From there, Project C.U.R.E will ship them to hospitals who are in desperate need of these supplies right now.

Any unused splitters are packaged with ventilators and sent to third world countries.

"By all means, I would like to help as many people as possible in this time of urgency. Right now, a lot of people need it and if there's anyway we can help and chip in, I think it's a great thing to do," said Brydon Kolenda, a student.

"If we could get our hands on another printer, that would be great because then we can increase production," said Nicolson.

It's a hands on learning experience that truly is making a difference. Blom said they'll continue to help with this effort as long as it takes and hopes to see more and more people join the cause.

"Hopefully everyone who has a 3D printer who bought it as a toy or something fun to work with, hopefully they'll fire it up and start printing something that can potentially save someone's life," said Blom.

Blom said this is a great way for his students to learn while also contributing to a great cause.

"Anytime that we can make it real life for them, it just gives it so much importance and it's a little bitt humbling," said Blom.

If you're interested in making the splitters and have the equipment needed to make them, click here for the instructions.

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