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Advice & Insights: 3D Printing For Coronavirus

Advice & Insights: 3D Printing For Coronavirus

When communities band together, so much can be accomplished and this is apparent with all of the people 3D printing for Coronavirus protection.

As with so many things today, I learned about the 3D printing community’s efforts via a former colleague’s re-post of his friend Eric Kingsley’s post. And because it was one degree of separation, I decided to contact Eric to learn more and see how I could help get the word out. He kindly responded and shared some wonderful advice and insights that I want to share with you.

Doing His Part, One 3D Piece At A Time

Before we get into his advice, let me tell you a little bit about Eric.

Eric Kingsley is the owner and operator of Brickapalooza LLC. He is a software engineer by trade where he worked for 20+ years. For the last 10 years he has run Brickapalooza as a STEM education enrichment business. He likes to tinker and learn new technology and has a Prusa MK3s 3D printer at home for hobbies and home projects.

At the start of the Covid-19 crisis his business quickly shut down as schools closed and he began trying to think about what he could do. His first idea was to start filming his educational classes for Brickapalooza and putting them up on YouTube for free.

The next idea was to search for a use for his 3D printer to provide help during the crisis. He was careful not to start printing in hopes that he could give things away, but instead, researched what he needed to know: what was any hospital’s exact need and which hospitals in his area were in need?

He saw a piece on NBC10 Boston with a Doctor from Massachusetts General asking folks with 3D printers to start helping. Afterwards he saw that the Lowell Makes makerspace was working with 2 local hospitals to provide masks and needed help printing parts for the masks. So he got started printing…

Image Credit: Eric Kingsley

Insights on 3D Printing for Coronavirus

I asked Eric to tell share some insights and advice on 3D printing for Coronavirus protection and these are his thoughts:

  1. If you have a 3D printer and it isn’t being put to use right now, it should be. Colleges need to open up their 3D Printer farms as well to help.
  2. Always think local, don’t print and ship, hospitals and first responders everywhere need help. Find a way to help locally.
  3. Print what the experts want. [In Massachusetts], Hospitals need masks and picked a design. They are running through procedures like “Cold Sterilization” to ensure they work for the masks. If your area wants masks, find out what kind and print those. If they want Face Shields print those. They may eventually need replacement valves for ventilators, print those if that is what they need.
  4. Work with a local group if you can, here Lowell Makes is heading up the effort. That way all I have to do is print parts, someone else worries about assembly etc.
  5. For me, masks take about 5 hours per mask just to print parts. That means the only way to make a dent is through volume. That’s why we need every available printer up and running and printing what local authorities need.
  6. If you have a broken or unused printer, or unused printer filament find someone to take it. I have offered to take any broken printers in my area, no takers yet. I will take them all and use them for parts to get and keep other printers running.
Image Credit: Lowell Makes

Find YOUR Way To Help During This Crisis

He also wanted to share some overall thoughts,

Finally my personal view, This isn’t a problem we can just throw money at. We all need to find ways to physically help while we are at home social distancing. If you can sew, sew gowns and masks, that is more important than giving $100 to an effort. Same with printers, figure out the need and get printing.

If you have a business that is shut down (I do) offer space for staging or supplies to first responders. Right now we need things, not money. Most things are made in China and right now they are hoarding those supplies for their own population (that’s a problem we can talk about after this is all said and done) so our dollars do no good because there is nothing to buy.

I wish I had more than one printer, I am just doing what I can.

Do What You Can With What You Have

If you’re a regular reader of Create To Donate, I realize the last several posts end in the same fashion. Clearly, I have a mantra.

No matter what happens, I firmly believe we should all do what we can with what we have – even if that is just raising our voices to help those who can’t.

So please think about what you can do to support everyone who doesn’t have the means or opportunity to stay at home. Like Eric, I feel that we all need to contribute to helping those on the front lines of fighting this virus. Even if sewing masks, or 3D printing isn’t your thing, I know there is something you can do to make a difference.

Share The Goods

If you are an organization in need of handmade items (not just face masks) please feel free to contact me and let me know more about your needs. There are a lot of people with home studios who want to contribute and are looking for a variety of ways to volunteer.

Share ideas for good deeds!