“After seeing all the PPE shortages in the news, I decided to put my 3D printer back to use.” – Chris H.
My wife has a small business where she bakes and decorates cookies for birthday parties, graduations, and other small events. She always bought cookie cutters on Amazon, Etsy, etc. A few years ago, I bought a 3D printer to print her cookie cutters at a fraction of the cost, ultimately helping her fulfill her cookie orders. But since COVID-19, just about every party and event has come to a halt and my 3D printer was sitting idle. Watching the news during this national pandemic, we quickly learned that there became shortages in all the Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).
After seeing all the PPE shortages in the news, I decided to put my 3D printer back to use. In early March, I began printing reusable surgical and N95 masks that could supplement the shortage. These specific masks took 3 – 6 hours each to print based on its size, so I churned out 5 or 6 masks a day and gave them away to healthcare workers.
Quickly, requests for 3D printed face shields poured in. After some research, I realized I could print the face shields pretty easily using a NIH approved design and a piece of transparency from an office supply store. This would take my printer about 3 hours, allowing me to produce 5 to 7 shields per day, along with some other small PPE items.
Word continued to travel and many local front line workers found out about my operation via a Facebook PPE group. The demand for my face shields surged! Various area hospitals ended up asking for bulk orders totaling over 60 face shields. With my printer only able to do a handful per day, I decided it was time to buy a second 3D printer to help me catch up.
While waiting for my second 3D printer to arrive, the NIH approved another 3D printable face shield that only took my printer 45 minutes to produce. This was a huge time saver!
When my second 3D printer arrived, using the new face shield design, I’m able to turn out 8 face shields every 3 hours. I’m finally catching up on my face shield backlog.
I’m not stopping until I can’t find any takers.
This need cannot be fulfilled alone. Along the way, another Discover peer, Chris Hardman, started the journey of PPE 3D printing. The two of us are constantly sharing texts on new 3D designs, what we’re making, and ideas on how do to more. You too could join this experience, get yourself a solid 3D printer and check out the NIH approved COVID-19 designs here: https://3dprint.nih.gov/collections/covid-19-response