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Incoming York College student uses 3D printing to help medical providers

Colin with sample PPEs

Colin Evans ’24 listened as his mom, Leigh Ann, shared some of the struggles she faced after a long day working at Carroll Hospital in Maryland. As a respiratory therapist, Leigh Ann worked to treat COVID-19 patients who were admitted to the hospital. But one problem presented itself to Leigh Ann and her colleagues: There were not enough supplies. “It just came to me that maybe I could do something to help,” he says.

The incoming Mechanical Engineering student at York College of Pennsylvania got to work. He quickly found a design to print plastic “ear savers” that go along the back of a caregiver’s head so they can comfortably wear a mask without the elastic rubbing the back of their ears. Printing the ear savers was an easy task after he found the model online. But soon after his mom took those items to the hospital, her manager reached out to ask Colin to ask if he could help with something else.

‘Real-world application’

The hospital needed filter covers for their reusable respirators and face masks. Those proved a bit more of a challenge as Colin had to create the design from scratch. The filter covers had to have the proper ventilation so hospital staff could breathe through them, and they couldn’t be too tight or too loose. Colin went through three or four unique designs before he got the fit just right, making adjustments to the one thousandth of an inch.

By the time he finished his work, Colin made about 130 pieces for the hospital. “It’s great to see a real-world application for our 3D printing can be used,” he says. He first became fascinated with the technology while at his local tech center in the engineering program. But he’d never seen them used for anything other than trinkets. Since he was gifted the 3D printer at Christmas, Colin says, he’s been fascinated by using the technology for working parts.

#YCPHero

His mom nominated him as a #YCPHero after his work to help the hospital. Colin laughs bashfully at the pride she clearly has for his work. “I’m just doing something I enjoy,” he says. “I know she likes to give me a lot of credit for it, and I appreciate that she is so grateful for it.”

While he has always enjoyed working with his hands—usually tinkering on cars with his dad—he looks forward to using his skills even more once he joins the Mechanical Engineering program at York College.

For his next application of 3D printing, he hopes to create a prosthetic for a friend’s dog. The animal has three legs and sometimes struggles to get around. “After making items for the hospital, I just keep thinking of other applications for it,” he says. “There’s so much that can be done with 3D printing, and I’m excited to see what I come up with.”

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