The ultimate lesson of the coronavirus pandemic, School of Dentistry alum Kyle King, D.D.S., believes, is that in times of crisis, there is no end to the good we can do together.

Dr. King, who received his D.D.S. in 2015, is now in private practice in the East Texas town of Lufkin. As the pandemic unfolded, he began seeing countless news stories about the shortages of personal protective equipment (PPE).

Kyle King, D.D.S. with face shields
Kyle King, D.D.S., with his newly fabricated face shields. Photos Courtesy of Dr. Kyle King

“I took to my office 3D printer and began fabricating face shields for our local hospitals,” Dr. King said. “I initially planned to do only 50 but was asked if I could double that due to the extreme shortages.”

But after finding his 3D printer could only create one shield every two hours, “I knew I needed reinforcements.” He appealed for help from an information technology company with 3D printer access, then approached the local junior college and high school for help with assembly.

“Word spread about us fabricating face shields,” Dr. King said, “and within hours we had requests for over 750 face shields from urgent care centers, primary care offices, first responders and many others.”

His initial shock at the need and the numbers soon gave way to “a new determination to ensure our health care infrastructure had the support it needed.” And he knew his community would support the effort.

“Through an online fundraising tool, we raised over $6,500 within 72 hours to fabricate the shields,” Dr. King said. “We went through several prototypes over the course of a few days to scale production of the face shields and ended up developing a shield framework made out of Lexan, an indestructible type of Plexiglass. A local printing company was recruited to quickly produce 10-millimeter laminate sheets for fabrication.”

face shieldAnd more than 25 community volunteers jumped in to assist in different aspects of production.

“In total, we fabricated over 650 face shields within four days, impacting over 105 different entities—various hospital departments, physician offices, urgent care centers and law enforcement,” Dr. King said.

“COVID-19 has taught us all that fighting an invisible enemy can be a daunting and difficult task,” he added, “but it has also taught us the value of love, life, friendships and that together, united, we will prevail.”