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Dugoni alumnus teams up with School of Engineering and Computer Science, Library to 3D print masks

Nabeel Cajee and his wife Safa

Dr. Nabeel Cajee, a Manteca dentist and Arthur A. Dugoni School of Dentistry alumnus, and his wife, Safa, outside his dental practice in Manteca.

Apr 13, 2020
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The Print to Protect Coalition is marshalling 3D printing capabilities in the San Joaquin Valley to help provide health care workers with much needed protective equipment during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Dr. Nabeel Cajee, a Manteca dentist and Arthur A. Dugoni School of Dentistry alumnus, is helping lead the efforts.

Cajee ’11, ’15 is pulling together resources from throughout the community. The effort also is bolstered by expertise from Pacific’s School of Engineering and Computer Science and the William Knox Holt Memorial Library and Learning Center.

“We want this coalition to help get us through the COVID-19 pandemic by meeting the needs of local health care workers,” said Cajee, a member of the Pacific Alumni Association’s Board of Directors. “We are working with the university, and the community is really stepping up.”

Cajee and his brothers, Na’eel Cajee and Mas’ood Cajee, all are dentists. After receiving a notification on March 17 from the California Dental Association that practices would be shut down for everything except emergency treatment, Nabeel Cajee turned his focus to producing medical equipment.

“I had an interest in 3D printing from my time as a student and I have lectured on the topic,” he said. “We started looking at equipment that we could produce with printing capabilities in our practice. We also looked at printing resources throughout the community.”

Those resources include the School of Engineering and Computer Science through the leadership of lab technician Jeremy Hanlon and Niraj Chaudhary, associate university librarian for organizational innovation, who is coordinating the library’s role. Community partners include the Stockton-San Joaquin Public Library and Hatch Workshop.

“(Hanlon) and the engineering school mean so much to our efforts,” Cajee said. “The expertise is very important.”

Jeremy Hanlon

Hanlon has designed and successfully printed a 3D mask that would be one of the key pieces of equipment sent to area health care workers. He used such materials as acetate and a piece of elastic from a bed sheet.

“The printers enable you to successfully make the equipment using everyday products,” Hanlon said. “We also have been able to significantly cut the printing time by quite a bit.

Chaudhary said the library’s resources, notably The Cube, are available “as soon as we get the list of needs from the county. This is a great opportunity to help.”

The San Joaquin County Office of Emergency Services was asked for a list of needed equipment. State and local elected representatives also were approached about potential funding.

“We are anxious to hear back on the community needs and then we will get to work,” Hanlon said.

Rep. Susan Eggman, D-Stockton, is leading the Central Valley PPE Initiative.

Cajee also is helping combine local efforts with the international group 3D Heals. There are short- and long-term goals.

“Our immediate focus is to help be a stop-gap solution for the equipment shortages locally being felt during this pandemic,” he said. “Ultimately, in a post-COVID environment, we might be entering a completely new world. Our current efforts could help us by bringing together creative minds.”

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