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Concordia Library lends its 3D-printing technology and expertise to Montreal’s first responders

The Technology Sandbox team answers the call to address the growing demand for personal protective equipment during the COVID-19 crisis
April 15, 2020
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As universities across Canada spring into action to help manage the spread and impact of COVID-19, Concordians — including Library staff members — have stepped up in meaningful and sometimes unexpected ways.

Seeing the demand for personal protective equipment (PPE) rapidly growing, the Library team reacted quickly. Through Guylaine Beaudry, vice-provost of digital strategy and university librarian, staff and equipment at the Technology Sandbox at the Webster Library were mobilized to produce components for face shields.

Sean (Tailor) Cooney, the Library’s Technology Sandbox technician, has been working tirelessly to operate and maintain the Library’s six 3D printers and to produce various components of face shields. He then assembles and sterilizes the face shields so they can be delivered, ready-to-use, to local hospitals.

He is collaborating with many businesses and community organizations that are collectively providing the necessary parts: printed face shield mounts, clear plastic visors and elastic bands.

Cooney has been safely accepting deliveries of components at the Montreal hackerspace Foulab, of which he is also a member, to produce the Health Canada-certified Prusa face shields.

"University resources were called upon directly by the government,” Cooney notes. The Technology Sandbox volunteers were quick to pitch in their own 3D printers as well to help scale at short notice. Until the 3D printers can once again be used for hands-on learning, they won't be idle."

Cooney has prepared about 200 face shields so far. This ongoing collaboration and production has resulted in face shields being sent to the Jewish General Hospital in Montreal and is now fulfilling a need with other hospitals outside the city.

The Technology Sandbox was launched as part of the Webster Library renovation, led by Beaudry in 2017-18 with the goal of providing the university community with new and innovative technologies, physical spaces and learning environments.

“I’m very proud of all of the creativity and timely collaboration that has occurred among the Library team members, knowing that it has helped support our local health care workers in this time of need,” says Beaudry. The innovative technologies of the Technology Sandbox are a testament to the forward-thinking principles that the Concordia Library embodies.”

This next-generation facility offers 3D-printing technology, high-tech tools and expertise, and a community space where people can learn by doing, making and sharing knowledge with each other.

Other members of the Library include Dianne Cmor, associate university librarian in teaching and learning, Jasia Stuart, coordinator of digital technologies, and several volunteers from Concordia who have been working together to support this initiative.

The future-facing facilities of the new Webster Library were designed in anticipation of its community’s needs to learn and live together in a changing world. Faced with an historic health challenge, this team nimbly repurposed its in-house capabilities and responded to an urgent need.


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