Coquitlam family 3D printing thousands of face shields for hospital workers

Apr 30 2020, 8:54 pm

BCIT is recognizing the efforts of two of their alumni, who have self-manufactured and already delivered 7,000 personal protective equipment (PPE) to local hospitals and facilities in recent weeks.

The post-secondary institution says mechanical engineering alumnus Jamie Haakons and interior design alumna Keisha Go have put eight 3D printers, sourced through donors and friends, into use by printing face shields and ear savers at a pace of 100 and 200, respectively.

The husband and wife duo have donated their PPE creations to Vancouver General Hospital, Royal Columbian Hospital, Lions Gate Hospital, and Surrey Memorial Hospital, as well as BC Cancer Agency, Burnaby Division of Family Practice, GF Strong Rehabilitation Center, and a number of care homes.

A publicly viewable spreadsheet listing locations that have received their support shows their items have also been donated to clinics, pharmacies, and dentistries.

“In response to the shortage of PPE, some of our healthcare workers are innovating by wearing swimming goggles and bike helmets with transparency sheets glued in front. Hearing these stories motivated us to work harder to help the community,” said Haakons.

They are working around the clock from their Coquitlam home, where they have converted their beer and winemaking room into the 3D printing production space. The printing process requires supervision, as the printers are not perfect and require tweaking throughout the day.

Some of the challenges they faced revolved around balancing an optimal room temperature due to the heat generated from the printers, and sourcing the necessary supplies.

Their bedtimes have been staggered so that the printers can be operated for longer than 16 hours a day.

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Hospital workers wearing 3D printed face masks. (BCIT)

The couple’s project began after a recent trip to the Philippines, when one of their friends asked if they could use their 3D printers and create some PPE to send to the Philippines. But they quickly turned their attention to supporting local healthcare workers after they faced difficulties with international shipments and when it became apparent that local hospitals and facilities were facing dire shortages.

Besides hospitals, they have received numerous requests from dentists, clinics, and retirement homes, which have few or no shields in stock. These medical businesses and services are lower down in the priority for available medical supplies, and some have reported that they are unable to place an order for shields.

To keep production going, they launched a crowdfunding campaign with a goal of raising $6,000. As of the time of writing, they have raised $5,714 over the last 28 days.

They see their efforts as an attempt to help bridge the gap in the local supply, and they anticipate they will no longer be needed locally in a few weeks when large companies have completed the process of scaling their operations and are able to meet demand.

When and if this happens, they intend to donate some of their printers to local schools, while others will be shipped to the Philippines and other developing countries.

face shields hospital workers ppe

Hospital workers wearing 3D printed face masks. (BCIT)

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3D printed face shields and ear savers. (Keisha Go)

Kenneth ChanKenneth Chan

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