The COVID-19 pandemic is creating various challenges for people all around the world. In order to get through this, communities need to come together and do what we can to help. In an effort to offer more personal protective equipment (PPE) to healthcare workers, I had the opportunity to print 3D protective face shields. These face shields add an extra layer of protection for health workers amid the spreading of the illness.
It all started with an email from a friend who is a doctor at a local hospital in New Zealand, saying they saw a post online about 3D printed face shields and asked if I could produce them. Front-line healthcare workers and facilities have reported a shortage of PPE due to the amount of pressure that the COVID-19 pandemic is putting on healthcare systems worldwide. Immediately, I thought that if I could do something for these healthcare workers that are risking their lives treating patients I knew I had to help!
I started out by doing an initial test print, which took a couple of hours to complete. After tweaking some of the settings, I was able to produce around 20 face shields a day, which I didn’t think was very much at first. I started thinking about the ways I could contribute more face shields. I was sure that there were others out there who wanted and were able to help in the same way. I went online and found a group of people that, like me, had 3D printers in their homes, offices, or universities. I joined a group called ShieldsUp, which is a community of 3D printing professionals and enthusiasts. In just a few days, we had a community working together to print more than 2,000 face shields with over 500 printers.
Over the last few days, I printed more than 50 face shields that were donated to Auckland City Hospital, and my printers are working day and night to produce more face shields that will be donated to healthcare workers that need them.
I initially got my 3D printers as a hobby and never thought I could use them to make such a big impact during a crisis or that I would be able to use it to give back to my community. At MuleSoft, we are encouraged to give back and help in whatever way we can. I used the tools and skills I had to amplify a community of like-minded people and we were able to help hundreds of front-line healthcare workers to protect themselves and others. I feel incredibly lucky for the opportunity to help.
It’s a challenging time for everyone, but as individuals and communities, we have the power to help those in need. Check with your local community on what can you do to (safely) help those around you. If you have a 3D printer and would like to print face shields for your community, check out https://www.prusa3d.com/covid19/ to find the designs to 3D print or to find local groups you can join.