Fontbonne Hall Academy Makes Face Shields for Hospital
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COURIER LIFE, APRIL 17-23, 2020 13
When Michal Ashkenazy, Science Department
Chair at Fontbonne Hall Academy, saw the
pleas on television for Personal Preventive
Equipment, she and her husband knew they
wanted to help and came up with the idea to
create and donate personal protective
equipment to (PPE) for first responders.
Ashkenazy contacted the principal of the
all-girls high school in Bay Ridge, Mary Ann
Spicijaric, who immediately gave her the
green light to use the school’s equipment for
the cause. “It is wonderful to see our faculty
modeling the Mission and charism of the
Sisters of St. Joseph by "responding to the
needs of our time". I am so proud of them
and so grateful for what they are doing to
help the doctors and nurses that are
fighting this terrible disease,” Spicijaric said.
To assist her with this passion project,
Ashkenazy also enlisted the help of her
daughter and Fontbonne Hall science
teachers, Tania Rivera and Adam Williams.
At the start of their work, the team
encountered one of several roadblocks:
the school’s FabLab had a 3D printer that
could only utilize certain material and they
had great difficulty obtaining this specific
material. Williams, who is the manager of
the school’s FabLab, spent weeks
researching designs of different face
masks and face shields that could be
made using the school’s 3D printer but to
no avail as the required material could not
With a fierce drive to complete this project,
Ashkenazy sought out other options and on
April 3 she found DXF (Drawing eXchange
Format) files of face shields on the NYU
website that could be created on the
school’s equipment. A face shield is designed
to cover the entire face with no skin
exposed. Rivera, who has expertise with the
laser-cutter machines, explained that
Fontbonne has a Full Spectrum
RetinaEngrave™ laser-cutter, which reads
DXF files to create quick, high quality, and
cost-efficient 2D models. Unfortunately, the
team encountered another dead end when
the necessary raw materials were sold out
all over the country. Forging on, they decided
to improvise; instead of looking outward for
supplies, the team took inventory of their
internal supplies and devised their own face
shield. The end result was made using clear
plastic binding covers and large rubber
bands from the school’s main office.
Ready to start production, the team met at
the school on April 6 determined to create
the supplies to donate to first responders.
“We are feeling extremely grateful for this
opportunity to be able to help our first
responders as they battle against the virus.
As scientists, we can all appreciate how very
important it is to have proper PPE during a
time of crisis,” said Ashkenazy.
With materials finally in hand, they began
production immediately. However, quickly
into production the team saw that the laser
cutting was singeing the thin plastic sheets
and coating it with a brown film and had to
come up with an alternative production
Ultimately, a successful production line was
set up (while still maintaining safe social
distancing): the mask was cut, vigorously
wiped, and then assembled. The team
churned out a total of 120 face shields in two
days to donate to an area healthcare and are
awaiting a delivery of more supplies to
continue production within the week. “ This is
just our small way of being able to express
our appreciation, respect, and admiration for
all of the first responders who are working
tirelessly to save lives,” said Ashkenazy.
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