Everyday people like Chemainus’ Mark Hird-Rutter are doing everything they can to help produce personal protective equipment during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Hird-Rutter has been putting his expertise and creativity to use at all costs to make face shields on a 3D printer at home.
“I’ve made about 100 of these so far and I’ve given them all away,” he said. “That’s part of what I’m doing.”
Doctors offices, pharmacies and 49th Parallel Grocery have all been recipients of the shields for use as employees see fit.
“From there, I’ve kind of spread out to Helping Hands,” Hird-Rutter added.
Helping Hands Personal Support Services Ltd. in Sidney supports seniors living in their own homes in the Greater Victoria area.
“They had facemasks,” noted Hird-Rutter. “They found their clientele getting a bit upset. They couldn’t recognize the people.”
The face shields better maintain the visuals with the care workers that satisfies the seniors. And they’re not cumbersome to wear, as Hird-Rutter and his wife discovered while trying them out at a meeting they attended last week.
“We wore those for two hours and they’re fine,” he indicated. “They’re very comfortable.”
Hird-Rutter is also providing face shields to some retail stores and even neighbours who would like them – all free of charge.
“People are a bit aghast that I’m not charging for them,” he laughed.
Hird-Rutter figures each shield costs about $1.30 to produce and factoring in the use of equipment might add another dollar.
His time is also given willingly that would obviously increase the cost of someone producing them to sell.
It is a bit of a time-consuming task. Hird-Rutter estimates each one takes about an hour and 40 minutes to print and about seven a day is the most he can do.
“It’s hard to do mass production with 3D printing,” he conceded.
Hird-Rutter found several different designs for shields on the internet, picked one out and went to work.
Here’s how the process works:
Face Shield Assembly Care and Maintenance
These easy to clean, reusable face shields save masks and allow others to see your face. They are quite comfortable to wear for long periods of time. The shields are made under strict sanitary conditions. There are three components to the shield and some assembly is required.
The first component is the 3D printed headband. There are six pegs along the outside, two on the front and two on each side.
The second component is a plastic sheet. This is created either by using a US Letter size overhead projector transparency or an 11 ¼” X 8 ¼” transparent report cover. Two are supplied with each headband. Extras are available from a stationary store.
The last component is a small block. This block is used in a three-hole punch to offset the holes. The block is placed in the three-hole punch at the end closest to you when punching. The block should be oriented, so its shorter dimension is along the length of the punch. You have to make sure the transparency is exactly 11”. The report covers must be trimmed to 11”. A sheet of the transparency material is put into the punch. Punch three holes. Then flip the transparency over so the holes are on the same side and punch again.
To assemble the shield, you start with the middle two holes that are snapped on the middle prongs of the headband. Then move around to the left and right to snap the other holes. The back posts have a small lip that holds the plastic sheet tight.
The headband may be cleaned with alcohol or sanitizer or a cleaner. Replace the plastic transparency if it becomes scratched or dirty.
The headbands can be made in assorted colours and Hird-Rutter did some special glow-in-the-dark designs for his grandkids that turned out to be a big hit.
“The fellow who created this was very clever,” Hird-Rutter praised. “I observed and I thought I could do it.
“I read one paper that thought the shields were a bit more effective for several reasons. You do avoid touching your face because there’s a barrier down to your chin and the other thing is you get better eye contact.
“When I go into the supermarket, people ask if they can get them.”
Hird-Rutter started producing them shortly after the COVID-19 restrictions were first put in place during late March and has kept chipping away ever since.
“Every time I slack off, nobody is asking and somebody heard I had them,” he chuckled. “It seems to be an ongoing thing.”