OAKWOOD — An Oakwood Junior High School eighth-grader was able to put his knowledge of 3-D printing to good use this summer to help out teachers and healthcare professionals.
As COVID-19 threatened to shut down schools this past spring, Oakwood Junior High student council adviser LuAnn Grimm suggested that the student council make personal protection equipment (PPE) for the Oakwood District 76 teachers as a service project.
“We wanted to do something to give back,” Grimm said of the project. “I have relatives in the medical field, and I had started making masks for them.
“We have a 3-D printer here (at the school), but it wasn’t big enough to do what we wanted.”
Jackson Dudley, who was the student council vice president last school year, ran with Grimm’s idea.
“When I was in seventh grade, I had an enrichment class where we had to design animals and then make them with a 3-D printer,” Jackson said.
That past knowledge came in handy when Jackson created the PPE.
Using overhead projector transparencies as a face shield, Jackson made a thin headband on a 3-D printer that holds the plastic shield in place.
The headband was designed by Danville resident David Youhas, who provided the prototype to use as a pattern.
“Part of the project was designing it,” Jackson said. “He (Youhas) came up with the model, and we just printed it.”
“He has multiple 3-D printers, and we knew him from church,” Jackson’s dad, John Dudley, said of Youhas. “We’ve known him for years.”
Through the Regional Office of Education’s School Works program, which covers both Vermilion and Champaign counties, Jackson was able to borrow the program’s 3-D printer.
“They covered the printer and some of the materials, and the student council provided extra filament,” Dudley said.
The colorful headbands are made of layered plastic filament that took a while to create one-at-a-time on a 3-D printer.
“From start to finish, it takes about an hour and 20 minutes to make one,” Dudley said. “We had a laptop hooked up to it, and we had it in the basement.
“As soon as quarantine happened, we started,” Jackson said. “It took most of the summer.”
At the time, Jackson’s mom, Courtney Dudley, was the assistant principal at Oakwood Grade School.
“She reached out to the teachers in the school district, and the demand was too high for us to fill all the orders,” John Dudley said. “We did end up making more than 150 of them.”
About a week before the start of school, Jackson delivered the face masks to Oakwood Grade School to be distributed throughout the district.
“The grade school took 100 of them, and the Polyclinic expressed interest in taking the rest,” Dudley said.
Jackson, who is interested in pursuing a career in engineering and design, said he was pleased with the way the project turned out.
“I’m just happy that people can be safe,” the teen said.