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Montgomery teen 3D prints PPE for DMV first responders out of his basement

High School sophomore Arjun Oberoi has turned his basement into a coronavirus armor factory, printing 250 face shields for hospitals, police and fire departments.

ROCKVILLE, Md. — The 3D printers now crammed into Arjun Oberoi's basement haven’t turned off in four weeks. They’re churning out PPE, manufacturing parts for more than 400 face shields and adapters used for breathing machines.

The Montgomery Blair High School sophomore sometimes finds it tough to fit all the completed PPE bags into area donation bins. He also admits it’s tough, but achievable, to balance 3D printing the precious armor of the pandemic with the rigors of high school.

So far, 15-year-old Oberoi has sent 250 full-face shields to Holy Cross hospitals in Montgomery County, BirthCare & Women's Health in Alexandria, and to Rockville’s police and fire departments.

Oberoi said he first started making shields based on a design provided by a Baltimore cooperative of 3D printers. But he later modified the design himself, so he could make 20 – 30 face shields per day, rather than 10 – 15 from the more cumbersome original template.

"All of the places that I’ve donated equipment to have been so grateful, because they don’t necessarily have access to these things," Oberoi said. "It’s just a great feeling to have, knowing that you’re helping the people who are actually fighting the pandemic."

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The Rockville student runs his high school robotics team from his house, which gave him the 3D printers and equipment needed to shift to 24/7 PPE production.

"I’ve had some very long days fixing the 3D printers, because the printers that I have are not the $10,000 models," he said. "So, I’ve been spending a couple hours a day making sure all of them are running." 

Adapters for breathing machines have also been manufactured for D.C. Fire and EMS. Oberoi now has a goal of scaling up production, using more advanced equipment to make more than 1,000 face shields parts.

"Using something like injection molding or laser-cutting all of these is what the next phase is, to be more efficient," he said. "So we can work towards eliminating the shortage of PPE, rather than short-term aid and help." 

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