Making Protective Gear for People who need it

Making Protective Gear for People who need it

If you're not in a great space to read some potentially stressful news, please click away.

We all know by now that our hospital system wasn't prepared for the shitstorm happening now. Our docs and nurses are running out of PPE (personal protective equipment) like masks, gloves, cleaning supplies, face shields, gowns, etc.

The call has gone out to makers around the world to start helping and it is being answered. Makers with 3D printers and laser cutters have started working on making face shields. Right now the go-to design is the RC2 and the effort to get them to the hospitals that are ASKING for them is @repkord on Twitter and Instagram and

If you don't have a laser cutter but do have a printer, you can print the pieces and ship them to the distribution center and they can make the shields. Join their slack group and get going.

If you can sew there are hospitals asking for cloth masks. These need to be made out of cotton and adhere to particular patterns that have been approved. Visit Make Masks 2020 for info on these patterns, where to send the masks, and the precautions to take.

I have put my printers to the cause and production of my 3D printed products is currently on hold while my Robot Army cranks these babies out and the laser cutter makes the shield. I am taking half my workday to make the cloth masks.

Do you want to help me make more face shields and masks? Here is a link to my amazon wish list of supplies I need.



Q- How do we know these items are safe or sterile for medical staff?

A- There is a difference between sterile and clean. PPE doesn't always need to be sterile. Nitrile gloves, surgery masks, and N95s are not sterile, they are barriers and they can be CLEANED. Cleaned means sanitized so that it doesn't harbor the virus.

The RC2 was developed with medical professionals. The cloth masks have been approved by the CDC as a LAST OPTION. Right now some hospitals want them to be able to help preserve supplies of the real stuff. Some hospital staff are using trash bags and will take anything they can get.

Q- I heard hospitals don't approve the design or don't want the design. Should I stop printing?

A- Some hospitals will not want them. That is absolutely their choice and the orgs listed above are focusing only on places who do want the items and can use them. Every hospital will have different rules and a lot of it is red tape.

Q- Cloth masks are not N95 rated and can't filter the disease so how are they useful?

A- Surgery masks, the masks doctors wear for basic exams, etc, also do not filter as well as an N95. The cloth masks have fallen into the LAST RESORT category. They do protect against droplets to a certain degree. The CDC does recommend their use in the case of last resort.

Q- I think I have a design that is better and we should switch to that one for the face shields and masks. How do I make everyone do this one?

A- I agree that the designs need to evolve to be as useful as they can be. From a project management standpoint though, a decision had to be made about what designs to go with that would stand the best chance of being helpful. Because its hard to disseminate info to every maker since this is such a spiderweb of a network it isn't realistic to expect us to be able to inform everyone of a new design every day and the orgs that are doing this need to focus on ONE design for max speed of deployment.

People need these things now. Your efforts can help people now if you go with the designs that each org has chosen to use, rather than spending all your time tweaking designs.

Back to blog