982nd MXS joins fight against COVID-19

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Robert L. McIlrath
  • 82nd Training Wing Public Affairs

SHEPPARD AIR FORCE BASE, Texas – Members from the 982nd Maintenance Squadron here put their 3D printing capabilities to use to aid in the fight against COVID-19.

The 982nd MXS runs four 3D printers that are used for fused disposition modeling.

“We make parts used in the training environment, whether the part itself is a training aid or part of a larger trainer,” said Chester Bridges, 982nd MXS trainer development fabrication supervisor. “We support all training units on Sheppard AFB, its detachments, Air Education and Training Command and other Air Force units as requested.”

With the Department of Defense mandating that service members wear face covers when they are unable to maintain the social distancing requirement of 6 feet, the 982nd MXS knew they could use their 3D printers to help.

Lee Cisco, 982nd MXS model maker inspector, said the crew received a request for a product, and then went to the National Institute of Health website to select a few products.

“From there, I processed the parts so they could be run in our machines and determined what material would work the best and how many of each I could build at one time,” he said. “I chose the product I could make the most out of proportional to the time it took to build a full build sheet. From there I changed the machine over to run the material I chose and started running product.”

The 982nd began producing face shield brackets and surgical mask straps. Their large-sized 3D printers allow them to produce more products at a single time.

“We can build 16 face shields at a time taking just over 30 hours,” Cisco said. “I can build three face shields at a time in just under six hours. One of our engineers developed a new design for the surgical masks straps.”

He said he can build 30 straps in just under 15 hours.

With the 3D printers running full time, member of the 982nd MXS are happy they are able to contribute and help flatten the curve.

“It was a collective effort that sprung from partnerships through our 3D print capabilities,” said Master Sgt. Randall Schell, 982nd MXS superintendent. “It seemed like a no-brainer. Once we knew there was something we could do to help, we passed the idea be the commander and with his buy-in, it became a go-do.”

“Doing the right thing for all the right reasons puts a smile on my face,” Cisco said. “Just knowing that what we are doing might help save lives, it can’t get any better than that.”