I’ve been self isolating for almost two months now. And yes, it really sucks. It’s both annoying and suspenseful - like a bad Black Mirror episode that just won’t end.
The whole COVID-19 situation took most of the world by storm, and Bulgaria was no exception. Even though the government put almost everything on lockdown, the first couple of weeks were pretty rough across the board.
Medical facilities initially had very limited supplies of personal protective equipment, with basic things like masks and gloves already in high demand.
And to add insult to injury, the national health organization has no immediate solution in the works. The official statement was that there are negotiating PPE with manufacturers, but it would take a couple of weeks before hospitals are supplied with gear.
We quickly spun up a pro bono initiative to provide medical front runners with 3D printed face shields.
What started as a one off thing turned into an assembly line of 100ish 3D printing geeks, pro bono enthusiasts, and companies willing to help out a good cause.
There’s a whole assortment of 3D models for face shields already, but we mainly use these two.
The first model is really easy to print and takes a few grams of filament, but we got feedback that the head bands are a bit too small and uncomfortable to wear for prolonged periods of time.
The second one is much wider and sturdier, and also has the plastic shield offset further from the face, so it doesn’t get in the way. It takes a lot longer to print, though, but it is possible to stack the model vertically, so multiple copies can be printed with no supervision/overnight.
Printing the frames is the starting point of the process. Once I have enough done, I’d send them over to the assembling crew for further processing. They’d add the front plastic piece, an elastic band, and ship them over to hospitals. Here’s a video showing the assembly process.
Support your local community
If you have a 3D printer, please pause your baby Groots and other random crap for a while. Face shield models are available here, and your local community is most probably in need of extra equipment.
Resources and further reading
Prusa have been of huge help to Prague in helping fight the pandemic. Most of their printing farm is currently dedicated to making PPE exclusively, and they also assemble and ship everything from their facility. Very impressive and highly appreciated!
Until next time - stay safe, stay home and wash your hands!