McConnell’s Innovation Lab partners with the community to support healthcare workers

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Alexi Bosarge
  • 22nd Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs

MCCONNELL AIR FORCE BASE, Kan. -- McConnell’s Innovation Lab has been supporting a community project since March 27, 2020, by 3-D printing face shield frames for those on the frontline battling the coronavirus.


The Innovation Lab is responsible for rapid prototyping and creating solutions to help the 22nd Air Refueling Wing. Now, Aimen are using their ingenuity to overcome personal protective equipment shortages in the community.


“I have seen people helping where they could and I have tried to do the same,” said Staff Sgt. Shane Wofford, 373rd Training Squadron, Detachment 8 instructor. “I knew I needed to jump in and help.”


Wofford and his five-man team have been working around the clock to ensure the printers are working non-stop. Each of the eight printers can produce two to three frames at a time during an eight to 12-hour period.


Upon completion, the frames are separated, sanitized, placed into plastic bags and delivered to the community’s project lead, Teddy Wisely, Wichita Police Department sergeant, for distribution.


“McConnell has been pushing full speed, producing high-quality 3-D prints on numerous machines,” said Wisely. “They understand the need [for faceshield frames] and that’s exactly what they’re making.”


When the frames are combined with a clear shield, it creates a physical barrier covering the eyes, nose and mouth, mitigating the spread of COVID-19 or other infectious diseases between patients and first responders.


“I hope this project can help those in need by providing some level of personal protection for first responders during their duties, while letting the community know McConnell strives to protect them both in the air and on the ground,” said Wofford.


The Innovation Lab exceeded their initial goal and produced 612 face shield frames to be distributed throughout the community. Team McConnell’s strong relationship with the surrounding communities make vital project partnerships like this one possible.