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LSU School of Dentistry uses 3D printers to make PPE

LSU Health Dental School usually uses 3D printers to make dentures, splints, and surgical guides, but now they're serving a new purpose.

NEW ORLEANS — LSU School of Dentistry is switching gears to help battle the COVID-19 crisis. They're using 3D printers to make personal protective equipment, also known as PPE.

LSU Health Dental School usually uses 3D printers to make dentures, splints, and surgical guides, but now they're serving a new purpose by being used to create N95 masks and face shields. 

"We started talking about how can we help get the PPEs we need," said Dr. Karen Bruggers, Head of Prosthodontics at LSU Health New Orleans School of Dentistry. 

She's working with Dr. Robert Laughlin, Chairman of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery at LSU Health New Orleans School of Dentistry. 

"You have to think -- well, we can't just order these. What do we have available to us that we can use to put something together to get through this challenging time," Laughlin said. 

They're using 3d printers to create reusable N95 masks from a flexible plastic that can be cleaned. They're pairing that up with an N99 filter that can be replaced. 

"We're able to print the mask and couple the mask with the inline filter which gives us 99.99 percent bacteria and virus protection," Laughlin said. 

They began work about a week ago and have already made about 50 face shields.

"Our technicians are working around the clock," Bruggers said. 

They're waiting on material to make the masks.

"As soon as the material comes in, within 24 hours we'll have some ready to go," Laughlin said. 

They're getting new high-speed equipment to increase production.

"Most likely in the realm of 300 a day," Laughlin said.

They'll go where needed, including UMC, where some dentistry residents are working in ICU to help.

"It's my responsibility to make sure they're safe and I will do everything possible to ensure that's what happens and that's' not only for my residents, but all the health care workers out there," Laughlin said. 

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