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Mark Embling

3D Printing for the COVID-19 Frontline

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, volunteers across the UK have come together under the banner of 3DCrowd UK to 3D print face shields to address the PPE shortage and do our bit to help keep our frontline NHS and care workers safer.

At time of writing, there are over 6,000 volunteers helping produce and distribute printed face shields to frontline health workers across the country, and over half a million shields have been requested by those in need. Of course, as an owner of 3D printers myself, I felt it only right that I get involved and help out as much as I can.

So far, I've sent off a box containing a number of printed headband parts and many more bottom reinforcements which can be paired up with headbands from other sources. These will all have the transparent visor part and elastic strap paired up and then sent off to where they're needed most. Over the Easter weekend, thanks to a massive push from so many people, north of 39,000 shields will be making their way to the frontline. And of course, the printers remain running, producing more parts.

Over time and as we hopefully head towards and then over the peak of the crisis, I'd expect the need for PPE to drop and for the conventional supply chain to step up and be able to take the pressure. But we're not there yet and right now, I feel proud that 3D printing technology combined with the community's willingness to help out means that we can help fill that gap whilst it exists, and perhaps even save lives. I think it's fair to say that days of 3D printing being seen as an expensive and slow way to make pointless plastic trinkets of no value are behind us.

Get Involved

If you also have access to 3D printers and would like to volunteer your time printing masks, please do visit the 3DCrowd UK site and sign up as a volunteer. There's also a GoFundMe campaign running to help support the vast operation, so please help out by donating to that if you can.