Just before lockdown the 3D printing community came together with the idea of helping frontline workers by putting their technology to good work. They planned to print personal protective equipment. These include reusable masks, face shields and valves that will allow four people to share a single ventilator.
The community doing the work started with just three people and has since swelled to more than 200, all of them now putting their spare time gainfully to work, making masks and face shields.
The masks and shields are not intended to replace the strictly quality controlled equipment used in hospitals but rather for other frontline workers. They can be sterilized and reused.
The 3-D process is slow. Just 200 masks and face shields have been produced so far. The problem that some of the printers are facing is the non-availability of filament, which is essential to the process. Filament has run into short supply due to the lockdown. Many of the printers, though willing, are not able to make the masks as they don’t have filament.