COVID-19 3D PrintinG
What we did (and can still do!)
During the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020, there was a high need for Personal Protective Equipment. When our competition season was cancelled, our team wanted to help. We used 3D printers owned by our team, team members, and other local volunteers to print Face Shields and "Ear Saver" straps to help the response to the COVID19 pandemic. We did this together, alone from our own homes. Funds for this were crowd-sourced by an amazing local response from the public, and the products we are made were donated to doctors, nurses, nursing homes, dentistry offices, group home facilities, public schools, the CDC, and even local restaurants and businesses. They were donated free to anyone, with priority given to medical personnel, medical facilities, and emergency response workers. By the end of the demand, we had distributed around 8,000 pieces.
Generosity of the public
We provided these products for free, with no payment required or expected. If there was a need that came to us, we filled it, and that was incredibly gratifying. We were able to do so through a generous outpouring from members of the public that wanted to help in whatever way possible. Cash came in from people who had never heard of us until Dr. Nirav Shah mentioned us in a press conference while holding up one of the 1200 shields we had provided to the Maine CDC. We worked with Maine Drones (a local supplier of 3D printing materials) to bulk order 300 lbs (that's a lot!) of printer filament from a US-based filament maker Push Plastic. We found an office supplies distributor in St Louis where we could order 10,000 sheets of acetate transparencies to make the shields out of.
It was strange days early in the pandemic. Our mentors were meeting strangers in parking lots and beside the road to hand off boxes of PPE for hospitals, nursing homes, and pizza joints, often to awestruck strangers who didn't know quite what to make of the situation we were all in together. It made for more than a bit of shared, awkward nervous laughter as we realized the insanity of the situation: that a bunch of high school kids that build robots were manufacturing and supplying PPE to emergency and medical workers due to industrial shortages. This project was a humbling experience for all of us, and certainly one we will never forget.
The design we worked with is found on National Institute of Health 3D Printing Exchange and has been recommended for clinical use:
It is known as the 3DVerkstan Shield; these were being printed all around the world. (see picture above... or left when viewed on larger screens). These are one-size-fits-most, from children ~8yrs up through adults with large heads.
IMPORTANT NOTE ABOUT FACE SHIELDS:
Face Shields have since been determined to be less effective than a cloth face covering by the CDC, once COVD19 was determined to be an airborne disease. They are best used with a cloth face cover, or by those unable to wear a cloth face cover.
Please refer to the CDC website for further information and guidance:
Ear Savers are used by people required to wear surgical masks for long periods, to reduce chafing on the ears. The design we printed was distributed on the National Institute of Health 3D Printing Exchange and has been recommended for clinical use. We made three sizes: 5", 6", & 7" straps.
Link to original sources:
Disclaimer: We are not affiliated with the NIH or the creators of these designs, and are not medical doctors. These have been shared for community creation and use at your own risk.
Help by Printing
During this project, over the first several weeks we realized that we had learned how to print these about as fast as they could be made, and we were turning out far more of these per day than many other folks. From that we have also created a new page with tips we have assembled to help with rapid printing.