So, this is our first 3D printing pandemic. Makers of all sorts have stepped up to support health care workers during this troubling time.
I got a text from a family friend the other day, asking if I still had a 3D printer. Yes. So, could I help her with efforts to provide personal protective equipment (PPE)? Sure.
So, this is how I got into 3D printing pandemic parts.
She sent we a link to Thingiverse for a surgical mask strap, also called an ear protector, shown at right above. I did a bit of experimenting, and am now up to printing five or six at a time. These are not large, but somewhat intricate, so they take a while to print. After a day of printing I have done about 60.
This ear protector project was created by a young Canadian Boy Scout. Twelve year old Quinn Callander, from Maple Ridge, British Columbia created the 3D model and posted it for people to use. Thousands have downloaded the model and I am sure hundreds of thousands of these parts have been produced.
For those of us with 3D printers, we are often asked what we do with them. Well, now we have easy answer.
3D Printing Pandemic Parts – Lots to Do
Fused filament printers are making a meaningful contribution to the fight against COVID-19. You can get an overview of the industry response from their web site. You will see a rapid response from commercial, military, student and hobby makers.
More complicated solutions include oxygen valves and hands-free door openers. Prusa Research, the manufacturers of my 3D printer, was quick off the mark with a 3D printed face shield design.
I guess this has been (and still is) our first 3D printing pandemic. In addition to PPE, you can find uses for 3D printing to temporarily replace parts missing from interrupted supply chains.