With hospitals and medical facilities around the world facing critical shortages of protective equipment due to the coronavirus crisis, WSP employees have joined volunteers across the UK and the USA answering the call to produce face shields using 3D printers and laser cutters.
In the UK, London-based Pete Townsend, BIM model manager, and Tim Neobard, Project Controls Manager, are involved in two separate initiatives. Pete arranged to access WSP 3D printers plus all the printing materials that he could lay his hands on to start printing for an organisation called 3DCrowd UK. He is printing 100 shields a week and WSP has contributed funds to purchase additional printing materials so he can continue until there is no further demand. “Knowing that there was a demand for essential supplies and being in a fortunate position to have the equipment solution at hands, as engineers, it’s in our DNA to help in times of need,” he said.
Meanwhile Tim Neobard is using laser cutters to manufacture face shields as part of a collaboration with community workshop, East Essex Hackspace. “We crowdfunded to raise £10,000 to buy a laser cutter and materials for 13,000 face shields,” he said. “So far, we’ve produced 9,500 face shields for the local hospitals, care homes and GPs in East Essex and are awaiting requests for more. We also 3D-printed around 5,000 ear protectors for NHS workers.”
In the USA, two colleagues from our office in Richmond, Virginia - associate mechanical engineer, Tucker Matthews, and vice president Mike Juergens - are printing and distributing face shields to local healthcare workers using an approved model that Tucker found on the NIH website (National Institutes of Health). They can produce six face shields a day per printer and use transparency paper for overhead projectors for the face shield, with buttonhole elastic and shock cord for the headband material. Thanks to the generosity of a WSP colleague in Chicago, Tucker was able to buy a second printer which has enable him to double his production. “This situation really shows how awesome 3D printing is at adapting manufacturing to produce goods that are in immediate need,” said Tucker. “Even in Richmond, where we are doing relatively well on PPE supplies and COVID cases compared to other US cities, every facility is desperately short on PPE. And in addition to healthcare workers, police and firefighters are responding to calls from COVID patients but have received no PPE. I’ve had police and fire first responders actually try to buy face shields from me. We can’t make them fast enough.”
When asked how many are they planning to make, Mike Juergens said “I plan to keep printing them as long as there is a need”