It’s National Nurse’s week right now, as of yesterday, May 6th. It goes until the birthday of Florence Nightingale, which is next week on the 12th. Right now is a fitting time to celebrate and recognize all of the nursing professionals who have risen to the occasion in order to take care of over 3.7 million people worldwide with COVID-19 as it continues to spread.
A lot of regular people are helping out, too.
One of the few good things going on right now is how many people are showing various acts of kindness to help out and support those in their communities. Because of different companies making 3D printing files (called .stl files) publicly available, many hobbyists have been able to step up and help fill the shortage of face shields and other vital personal protective equipment needed by the medical professionals working with infected patients.
Having a 3D printer puts us in a useful position.
Since we have a Makergear M2 in our office that would normally be used for special projects, it has been able to crank out about 70 of the face shield pieces designed by Carbon 3D so far. These take about 2.5 hours to make (maybe it could be sped up, I’m not completely sure) so only a few can come out per day. A nearby Office Depot has the rest of the supplies we need to create a complete face shield – the plastic shield part and 7″ x 1/8″ rubber bands.
So far, at least three hospitals are using them.
We donated the first 30 forehead pieces to a local college before figuring out we could make the full masks (here’s the story on what they’re doing). I’m not sure where the masks made out of those ended up being donated. Otherwise, we’ve sent masks to nurses working at North Memorial in Robbinsdale, MN (about 30), University of Minnesota Masonic Children’s Hospital (two masks) and Children’s Hospital (only one mask’s gone there). One other mask is on its way to a nurse in Nevada.
I wish we could do more.
We’re still a pretty small website and frankly, I wish there was more we could do. Outside of some small financial contributions to college students who need support, these masks are what we can give right now. The good news is that a lot of other people with resources are also stepping up and helping to make sure that our healthcare professionals are being supported as they care for the sick. If you have anything to offer and know anyone who needs it, don’t hesitate to reach out to them. I think everyone is pretty nervous right now, especially with social distancing being in full swing.
If you have the material for pitching in but aren’t sure how to make the masks, here are some shots of the assembly process.
Putting these together is pretty straightforward, once the forehead piece gets printed off, you can use a small drill bit or something small and sharp to pierce the holes in the plastic where it needs to attach to the head piece. I have been pressing the plastic shield into the places where it needs to attach on the forehead piece to mark it before using the drill bit to actually cut through. Then, gradually easing the shields on to the forehead pieces (the design I’m using has 3 areas where the shield attaches).
I didn’t realize I’d ordered glow in the dark filament for these, but it works!
We’re in a tough time right now. If you know anyone working in healthcare, don’t hesitate to reach out to them (taking social distancing measures into consideration) and make sure they have what they need. As long as everyone does what they can with what they have – things will get better eventually. Even if all you have is a menacing glare to shame that group of 20-somethings outside who aren’t following social distancing measures – please use it.