Justin Kramer may not be stationed on the front lines of the coronavirus battle but he’s helping give those who are a fighting chance to protect themselves from COVID-19.
On Friday (April 17), Kramer, Supervisor of Emerging Technologies, made his third trip in two weeks to drop off a load of 3D-printed face shields at Orlando Health Orlando Regional Medical Center. In the wake of OUC’s coronavirus precautions, Kramer has led a volunteer effort during his non-working hours to augment the hospital’s supply of personal protective equipment.
Kramer originally offered to make face shields for OUC using his own materials and two 3D printers – his own and the Emerging Tech team’s printer at Gardenia. But our safety and cleaning teams didn’t need the type of face shields made by the 3D printers, so Kramer approached Orlando Health, a longtime OUC community partner.
“I reached out to Orlando Health by email, offering them what we had and the ability to print more of them,” says Kramer. “The offer was, ‘I could do this, let me know what you need.’ They said they’d take whatever we’ve got.”
So far this good Samaritan initiative has produced 110 face shields that Kramer and his band of helpers have assembled with plastic components made by 3D printers. And they’re continuing to make more along with plastic pieces called “ear savers” and hand-made surgical-type face masks, a new project 15 volunteers are undertaking with materials provided by Orlando Health.
“We’ve already made 400 face masks,” says Kramer as he prepares to load six boxes of Halyard medical fabric into his SUV. “You have to hand cut the fabric into rectangles and there’s sewing involved. It’s very detailed work.”
When the masks are completed, Orlando Health sterilizes them in an autoclave, which changes their structure and makes them impervious to airborne germs. The hand-made masks are a good alternative to N95 masks.
Helping Kramer with 3D printing duties are Rubin York, an Emerging Technologies Project Engineer, and a couple neighbors of his in Harmony. The printers produce two pieces for each face shield – the adjustable head band and a curved strip of plastic that shapes the hand-cut plastic visor from its base. The shields are assembled at separate locations, with Kramer collecting them for his runs to Orlando Health’s downtown campus.
“They’re not labor intensive or expensive to make, about a couple bucks each,” says Kramer, who pays for the materials out of his own pocket, “but it’s a slow process. A printer can only make enough pieces for five face shields a day. One of my neighbors can make only one every 10 hours. ”
The printers are guided by an open-source design shared by Prusa 3D, a 3D printer maker based in the Czech Republic. Kramer and York have made adjustments to the design as sourcing materials for the original design became harder to buy.
Ear savers were not part of Kramer’s original 3D printing plans. A 6 ½-inch strip of flexible plastic with four ribs on each end, an ear saver is used to secure the elastic strings on a face mask to the back of the head instead of behind the ears where they irritate the skin. Kramer’s 3D printing team produced 92, 22 more than Linda Ferrone, Chief Customer and Marketing Officer, requested for operations crew members. Volunteers are also making them for Orlando Health.
Kramer’s contact at Orlando Health, Michael Schmidt, Managing Director of Strategic Innovations, says the hospital welcomes donations of PPEs at this time.
“The community has really stepped up with contributions of 3D-printed shields and other personal protective equipment,” Schmidt says. “Every little bit helps in our effort to protect health care professionals from exposure to COVID-19. Orlando Health really appreciates what Justin has done.”