3D printers begin making face shields to control COVID-19 in Puerto Rico
Makers against COVID19 and The Rogue United have join forces with the mission of mass-producing face shields during this week to deliver them to health personnel next week who are on the front lines during this epidemic.
The goal is to make 100 face shields a day, the groups said, confirming they are calling on people in Puerto Rico skilled in 3D-printing, as well as individuals and organizations that want to provide financial, industrial and nonprofit support, to complete the task.
The Makers against COVID19 group comprises mechanical engineering students of from the University Puerto Rico-Mayagüez Campus, who got together with several citizens skilled in 3D-printing. For counseling and advise, they reached out to Alfredo Ayala, founder of The Rogue United, an emergency response organization with a humanitarian and multidimensional approach.
Together, they decided to look for resources and funds to be able to distribute transparencies and plastic used to make face shields for health professionals.
The surge in demand for protective equipment as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, health institutions lack individual protective equipment for its staff. The use of this equipment miniizes infections, the groups said, citing recent studies.
“The vulnerability of health workers is also being revealed, so facilitating access to these protective masks is essential in the fight against this virus that plagues us,” said Armani Cabán, a graduate student from the University of Puerto Rico at Mayagüez.
“I have my 3D-printing business, and during the quarantine I wanted to use the time to make a positive social impact. The goal is to be able to reach and impact those places where the government cannot reach,” Cabán said.
The design of the protective masks they produce has been approved by the National Institutes of Health. They are made up of a 3D printed headband attached to a transparent plastic piece to cover the face. To maximize the protection provided by the face mask, it must be used in combination with masks that cover the nose and mouth, he said.
“We’re looking for citizens who want to collaborate,” said James Stuart, an engineering student at the University of Puerto Rico in Mayagüez, making a call to join the effort via Makers Against Covid19’s Facebook page.
“We need to reach people who have contacts in the medical industry, those who have 3-D printers, or have transparent presentation or projector foils, or PLA filament. There are many ways that we can all be part of the solution.” Stuart said.
The group is recruiting people with knowledge in 3D printing to adopt the files and codes “so that they can produce as many frames as possible and protect as many health professionals as possible. We want to minimize that people get sick because of lack of adequate protection,” Cabán added.
The group collaborates with Puerto Rico Rise Up, a 501c3 nonprofit organization, which will oversee and manage funds raised with its help to continue producing the protective gear. Contributions can be made online.
In the short term, the group seeks to impact medical centers and protect health personnel in Puerto Rico.
Long-term plans call for distributing the masks in the U.S. mainland as well.
“Due to the nature of the 3D printing technology, it is applicable to handle natural disasters due to its low cost and personnel requirement. In biology it has been used to create artificial organs through stem cells,” the entrepreneurs said.