How Makers Can Provide Support in the Midst of COVID-19

Around the world, countries are being hit hard by the COVID-19 virus. Hospitals and medical facilities are filling to capacity faster than they can discharge patients, businesses are being forced to close due to stay-at-home orders, and the world is experiencing a shortage of medical necessities such as ventilators, face masks, eye protection, and other essential PPE.

For small manufacturing businesses who rely largely on machine uptime and the ability to get parts out the door, this shutdown is leaving many entrepreneurs unsure about the future of the business while leaving employees out of work for a still undetermined period of time.

The support and ingenuity coming from the “maker” community is absolutely amazing. This community has banded together to design and manufacturing face shields, masks, medical equipment parts and other PPE that are currently in short supply.

Ventilators

Makers around the globe are collaborating to design open-source, easy to manufacture ventilators out of easy to obtain materials. Formula 1 teams are putting their engineering facilities to use to produce parts for ventilators now that many races of the season have been postponed or cancelled, The University of Minnesota and TEKNIC (manufacturer of ClearPath motors) have been working together to design a ventilator anyone can build, and Project Open Air is crowdsourcing an open-source ventilator with the help of engineers and medical professionals around the world.

Face Shields

While medical grade N95 face masks required advanced materials and equipment, plastic full-face shields can be easily constructed and help fill the gap when an N95 mask may not be available.  Face shields can also help minimize contamination of precious N95 masks that, unfortunately, have to be re-used. At Saunders Machine Works, we are using the Badger Shield design to assemble face shields for hospitals and front-line workers. Local educators are using their schools’ 3D printers to print face shields as well, and some manufacturing facilities have even completely retooled their business for mass production.

Aerosol Block

Hospitals are now asking for Aerosol Blocks to be made – a clear plastic shield that covers a patients head while being intubated. This device protects medical professionals from aerosolized and possibly infected particles from coming into contact with them during the process, aiding in the shortage of face shields and masks. These are fairly straightforward to manufacture, and you can read more about them here.

Overall, the influx of makers rising to the challenge offers a more encouraging outlook for the future. If you think you can provide aid, we urge you to look into the extensive range of projects going on at this time and again keep in touch at http://nyccnc.com/covid.

John Saunders

John Saunders is the author of the NYC CNC YouTube channel and runs Saunders Machine Works, a machine shop in Zanesville, OH.

John Saunders

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