Joe Wyatt
Published April 14, 2020

One member of the Amarillo College Family recently joined a local effort to produce personal protective equipment (PPE) on 3D printers for distribution among healthcare workers on the front lines of the COVID-19 crisis.

Austin Rios   2The group is Amarillo Prints PPE and Austin Rios, grants accountant in AC’s Business Office, is a 3D hobbyist who came across the organization’s quest for volunteers on social media.


Ever since, Rios has been churning out face-shield frames on both his own personal 3D printer, and on the AC Drafting Department’s desktop model, which he hauled home after receiving permission to do so from the College.


The face-shield frames, when fitted with transparent lenses, are used by medical professionals in conjunction with other protective equipment to provide a greatly enhanced level of on-the-job protection.


The frames are based on specifications provided by Amarillo Prints PPE and modeled on feedback received from the main beneficiaries of the undertaking – BSA and Northwest Texas hospitals, and area health clinics.


Producers simply download a specified program into the 3D printers and let the machines do the rest.


“I’ve had my printer for a while. I just like making knickknacks,” Rios said. “When I noticed the call for volunteers to make much-needed PPE, I saw it as a great way to support all the doctors and nurses who are working so hard on our behalf.


“I can make about six or seven pieces on one machine in a day,” Rios said. “That doesn’t sound like a lot, but when you have 50 or 60 printers going in separate locations, like Amarillo Prints PPE has now, you can meet a facility’s particular needs pretty fast.”


Once individual producers amass a certain amount of PPE, they take their stockpiles to one of the organization’s drop-off points, where the items are indivually sanitized before being passed on to the end users.