When the 'Safer At Home' order closed their doors, the engineers at Makerspace Milwaukee knew the injection molding, 3D printers, and other machines in their factory could be used to make Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).
With so much need for PPE nationwide, members of the non-profit organization thought it would be a shame to waste the resources and talent now sitting idle. They wanted to do more to contribute to the pandemic fight than stay at home.
A few inquiries to local hospitals later, they had a mission. The biggest need it turned out was not N95 masks, but plastic face shields. Also known as splatter shields. The hospitals could not get what they needed.
A face shield pattern was quickly researched and designed, and the race to production began. A machine stamping company in Grafton WI, Kapco was tapped to mold the clear shields. Another company, Netzer Plastics, offered to make the headbands. Both companies offered to produce the parts at cost, but that introduced a new challenge. How would they pay for all these supplies?
An appeal went out to friends and family over Facebook and a GoFundMe page was created. Money started slowly flowing, supplies started arriving, and a core group of seven Makerspace volunteers, lead by Marcus Schneider, Pete Prodell, and Dan Jonke, began assembly.
The mission became personal and urgent when one retired Makerspace member, Mykal Antczak, who was not involved in the shield-making effort, was admitted to the hospital with COVID-19 in mid-March and passed away on April 14. Several other members outside the volunteer team have also become infected.
So far the core team has delivered 4,384 face shields, received injection molded parts for another 17,000+ and raised $18,807 to support our efforts. A church group in Michigan has been very generous in supporting the effort.
Making the shields is a personal challenge as well. Jonke has elected to isolate himself from the outside world and has not been anywhere outside his home or the building in six weeks. During the work day each volunteer wears their own PPE while maintaining appropriate distance between their work areas.
The effort is ongoing. They ask anyone who knows medical workers, hospitals, or clinics, who need face shields (for free) to make a request at this website: https://milwaukeemakerspace.org/covid-19/
Talk about timing! Taylor B, a Radiology Registered Nurse in Madison, WI, is expecting her first child in October. Taylor shares that pregnant nurses need to be especially careful to follow all CDC guidelines as to what PPE to wear.
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