Tucked away in the Ed Lumley Centre for Engineering Innovation is a 3D print shop that has been quietly expanding its fleet.
In just a week, Parker Drouillard, the owner of Pep Corporation, has doubled the number of his self-made 3D printers to assist in the global fight against the spread of COVID-19.
“We normally print automotive parts, but our clients, mostly automotive manufacturers, are being asked to retool,” Drouillard says from his shop floor filled with the whirring sound of nearly 30 printers hard at work.
“As a result, quite of a few our partners have reached out to us.”
The fourth-year computer science student has been approached by clients and businesses from Windsor to Toronto that need parts to assemble ventilators and face shields. He’s now preparing for large orders that can take anywhere from 20 minutes to four hours to produce.
Drouillard has also joined forces with community partners WEtech-Alliance, EPICentre UWindsor, and Windsor-Essex FIRST to donate 500 face shields to essential workers across Windsor-Essex and Chatham-Kent. He is producing the plastic components that hold the face shield in place based on a design created by Kelcom 3D Division.
Unlike most face shields, the Kelcom design — which was created in collaboration with healthcare providers — includes a unique bottom plastic retainer to prevent inhalation of respiratory droplets. It’s been dubbed the YQG Shield.
“Patients are typically lying down below the healthcare worker, so this design gives them added protection,” Drouillard says.
Pep Corporation’s 3D printers are made in-house with 136 parts printed on the company’s existing machines and water-jet cut materials produced by UWindsor Engineering technologists.
“This means we can ramp up quickly. I will do everything I can to help out,” says Drouillard, who plans on building another 30 to 50 machines in the next three to five weeks. “This is what we do, and fortunately it can be applied in this situation.”
Pep Corporation is an incubator member of EPICentre UWindsor’s EPIC Industrial Hub. Organizations in urgent need of donated face shields can email Michelle Teno-Wachter at firstname.lastname@example.org.