Positively KELOLAND: 3D printing farm takes shape for Harrisburg School District employee

Positively KELOLAND

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — The pandemic is full of local heroes doing their best to help their communities in a time of need.

In Harrisburg, a school district employee started to pitch in by printing ear savers for medical professionals. That effort has expanded rapidly over the past few weeks thanks to an army of supporters.

Just a couple of weeks ago, this corner of Travis Lape’s garage didn’t look like this. The Innovative Programs Director for Harrisburg schools was driven to help frontline workers and his tech skills are coming in handy in the war against COVID-19.

Holsen: What else would you call yourself, a 3D printer master?
Lape: I’m not a master. I’m just a tinkerer. I would say a 3D printing tinkerer.

Not too long ago, Lape was the proud owner of just one 3D printer that could produce one earsaver every 12 minutes. That scaled up quickly when people started donating money to his cause.

“So I went out and I bought two printers. Those two printers turned into a community foundation grant from the Harrisburg Community Foundation to get three more printers. So now I’m up to five. Then I had two other community members say, do you need a couple more. I was like, we could,” Lape said.

He now has seven working around the clock making visors and face shields for people here locally and others across the country. Lape hopes to produce hundreds.

“As simple as one shield getting sent to Texas today. The nurse just wrote a book for me of just how thankful she was of the supplies and what everybody is doing to try to support the medical profession,” Lape said.

From donated printers to donated supplies, the only thing it’s costing Lape is his time. He’s happy to give it.

“People are like, ‘You’re giving these away for free and these companies are charging $12-$25 a shield.’ I’m like, yes I get it. That’s their business. They need to do that, I don’t need the money,” Lape said.

A generous attitude in a time of great need.

All of Lape’s 3D printers will go back to the Harrisburg School District when students go back to school next year.

If you’d like to help Lape, you can email him at lape.travis@gmail.com.

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