RCBI ramps up production of protective equipment

The Robert C. Byrd Institute (RCBI) at Marshall University is working around the clock to produce personal protective equipment as part of the fight to reduce the spread of the corona virus.

Technicians in Charleston and Huntington are manufacturing N95 masks and face shields using RCBI’s stable of 3D printers and laser cutting technology, including one of the largest 3D printers in the state.

The devices are being shipped to the West Virginia Army National Guard in Charleston where the face shields are assembled and filters are added to the N95 masks before they are distributed around the state to healthcare workers and first responders.

“RCBI is fortunate to have the technology and expertise to help meet the critical demand for these devices,” said Charlotte Weber, RCBI director & CEO. “We will manufacture approximately 150 to 200 N95 masks and 30 to 50 face shields per week. We will continue production as long as there is a need.”

Marshall University President Jerome Gilbert said the efforts of those at RCBI and across the university are highly commendable.

“The efforts of the personnel at RCBI and at Marshall have been truly herculean and we are proud to be able to help,” Gilbert said.  “Marshall University has a long-standing commitment to the health and welfare of our community and state. I am thankful for everyone’s efforts.”

RCBI also is working to develop a faster method of producing N95 masks using aluminum molds to create a one-piece mask from polyurethane. This method would allow RCBI to mass produce the protective equipment much more quickly, according to Arley Carpenter, director of manufacturing services at RCBI.

N95 masks cover the wearer’s nose and mouth to protect against potentially harmful airborne particles by filtering at least 95 percent of particles as small as 0.3 microns in size.