Fab Lab partners with local businesses to make PPE for Renown healthcare workers

Fabrication Lab and Miller’s Jackets and Printing Services of Nevada are working together to help meet Renown’s community-donated goal for isolation gowns

Zund Cutter cutting PPE gowns

The Zund G3 digital CNC machine in the Fabrication Lab cuts PPE gowns.

Fab Lab partners with local businesses to make PPE for Renown healthcare workers

Fabrication Lab and Miller’s Jackets and Printing Services of Nevada are working together to help meet Renown’s community-donated goal for isolation gowns

The Zund G3 digital CNC machine in the Fabrication Lab cuts PPE gowns.

Zund Cutter cutting PPE gowns

The Zund G3 digital CNC machine in the Fabrication Lab cuts PPE gowns.

The University of Nevada, Reno Fabrication Lab in the University Arts Building at the College of Liberal Arts is continuing its role in providing personal protective equipment (PPE) for healthcare workers by partnering with local businesses to make isolation gowns. The Fab Lab, Miller’s Jackets and Printing Services of Nevada have teamed up to help meet Renown’s goal of obtaining 10,000 community-donated isolation gowns. Fab Lab Manager Nicole Miller has already cut around 300 gowns to be sewn and anticipates being able to supply around 200 per week.

The Fab Lab partnered with Miller’s Jackets and Printing Services of Nevada in early April by supplying Miller’s Jackets with the cut isolation gowns to be sewn. Miller’s Jackets sews the gowns, which are then donated to Renown. Once worn, the gowns can be sterilized and reused, helping to extend the life of PPE.

“There is a special feeling when you wear a garment that was hand-made for you,” Tony Slonim, M.D., Dr.PH., president and CEO of Renown Health said in a statement. “I know our caregivers will feel the love and appreciation expressed by the talented craftspeople of the University of Nevada, Reno Fabrication Lab, Miller’s Jackets and Printing Services of Nevada when they don these special jackets.”

Miller, who initially started work in the Fab Lab by 3D printing PPE and cutting facemasks, learned through Renown’s director of service excellence that Miller’s Jackets was sewing isolation gowns. She offered her services in the Fab Lab to quickly cut the fabric for Miller’s Jackets. Renown purchased all of the fabric and supplied it to the Fab Lab for cutting.

“COVID-19 has affected us all in unprecedented ways,” said Miller. “It means so much knowing that we can help our local healthcare workers who are working so hard for the whole community. At its core, the department of arts’ Fab Lab is designed to enable our students and faculty to create interdisciplinary research. Pivoting to PPE production just allows us to use our equipment and skill set to solve problems in an applied design environment.”

Inside the Fab Lab, Miller feeds Kona Cotton fabric into the Zund G3 digital CNC machine to begin the production process. Using a design software, Miller digitized Renown’s isolation gown template and created three sizes – small, medium and large. These digital blueprints serve as instructions for the machine to cut the fabric. Thanks to this state-of-the-art cutting machine and Miller’s streamlined efforts, it takes just 68 seconds to cut out one gown. The machine cuts 25 gowns at a time. See the Zund G3 digital CNC machine in action.

Since the partnership began one month ago, Miller is also working with the University’s Innevation Center-Powered by Switch, providing cut isolation gowns to be sewn by an established group of community volunteers. In the weeks ahead, Miller hopes to supply Miller’s Jackets with 150 cut isolation gowns a week and the Innevation Center with another 60-to-70 gowns.

“At its core, the Department of Art’s Fab Lab is designed to enable our students and faculty to create interdisciplinary research,” Miller said. “Pivoting to PPE production just allows us to apply our equipment and skill set to a current, real-world problem.”

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