UACCM Produces PPE for Health-Care Workers

A CNC Router produces visor bills at the UACCM Industrial Mechanics and Maintenance Technology lab at the Workforce Training Center.

When the call came from the Arkansas Regional Innovation Hub to help protect health care professionals and stop the coronavirus pandemic, the University of Arkansas Community College at Morrilton turned to its technical labs. 

At the Workforce Training Center, a team of UACCM employees gathered in the Industrial Mechanics and Maintenance Technology labs to make parts for face shields. This equipment, used to keep health care workers safe from the virus, is in critical need around the country, including the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences.

IMMT Instructor Brian Lum and Dean of Technical Studies Bobby Keeton worked through the day and night. They used CNC routers—computer-controlled machines used for cutting materials—to fabricate 587 acrylic rigid visor bills, a component to face shields.

IMMT Instructor Lum breaks apart visors.
Brian Lum said that he was proud to aid health care workers, who are putting their own health in danger while fighting the spread of COVID-19. 

“So many brave men and women are selflessly going above and beyond for their fellow human beings,” he said. 

The collaboration began with a conference call between UACCM administrators, including Chancellor Lisa Willenberg, and representatives from the Innovation Hub and the Arkansas Economic Development Commission. The Innovation Hub, under contract to make personal protective equipment (PPE) for UAMS employees, sought UACCM’s resources to boost production. Huddled over the specifications during the conference call, they chose to produce the visor bills.

During the COVID-19 outbreak, UACCM has sought ways to help the health-care community. Recently, the college transferred its stockpiles of masks, gloves, gowns, and sanitizing wipes from its nursing program to UAMS.

Keeton sent the designs to Lum and Drafting Instructor Kristen Karetov, who is using the college’s 3D printer to manufacture the face shield bands, a process that takes longer than the visor. Lum decided to use the IMMT lab’s three Laguana IQ CNC routers. Lum prepared the lab to work as a production line, where all machines could run at once, and the team could monitor for quality control. Allen Holloway from UACCM’s custodial department ensured that the IMMT lab got the acrylic from, and he picked up several 4’ x 8’ sheets from Maumelle. 

“I found when I slowed the machine down, the cuts were cleaner and cutting bits lasted longer,” Lum said. 

Lum said that the three CNC routers running together can produce 45 visor bills in less than 40 minutes. As the machines roar in the background, the team peeled off a blue covering to reveal a clear finish.

On Friday morning, Holloway loaded up boxes full of visor bills and delivered them—all 587—to the Innovation Lab in North Little Rock.  

“Making these visors are the very least we could do, and I will be honored to step up again when called upon. I’m thankful for the opportunity,” Lum said.

UACCM employee Allen Holloway begins loading the visors for delivery outside the Workforce Training Center.


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