By Aaron Pollock, Architect
With the current demand for healthcare workers PPE (personal protective equipment), it is not surprising that many individuals at home have stepped up to do what they can to alleviate this demand. Our resourceful nature allows us to contribute to the national issue at hand, and aid in supporting those working at the front lines of the current pandemic. Our staff at Number TEN are also trying to be as resourceful as possible by answering the call for PPE through 3D printing.
As we write, shipments are arriving in Canada for our front-line healthcare workers, including N-95 respirators. The unknown nature and unsteady supply chain have created a lot of hesitation about the safety of these workers. How can we utilize materials and skills on hand to aid in this demand?
Communities are currently coming together to pool their resources to develop creative solutions to help from afar. 3D printing has long been a way of quickly prototyping various models and with a simple search online you can now find numerous files people have created to be shared and printed. Of these files are Personal Protective Equipment that are free to download and print. Recently, many have taken this availability by helping print and share PPE to help alleviate the shortage – including our very own Richard Cueto.
Richard Cueto’s 3D printer setup at home, busy printing PPE for frontline workers
Richard is a technologist with Number TEN and is continuously researching new technologies and programs to push our collaborative endeavors. A recent article in Canadian Architect highlighted face shields being 3D printed for Ontario healthcare workers. Richard immediately began printing from his home 3D printer shortly thereafter and has since sent 50 face shields to Toronto.
Having recently joined the local “Winnipeg 3D Printing Club,” Richard noticed how the members were trying to print and deliver as many printed PPE items as possible. One of the items in demand are designed to help alleviate strain on healthcare workers wearing masks. We’ve all seen the media posts of healthcare professionals with bruised faces from wearing PPE for 16 hours a day or more. Mask elastics create added pressure around the wearers ears and was the impetus to create “3D printed Ear Savers”. The ear saver wraps around the back of the user’s head and allows the elastic of the mask to wrap around the adjustable hooks rather than the wearers ears. The template comes from the open source website www.thingiverse.com, but Richard has added his own message to the ear savers by adding inspiring words such as “love, hope, care, heal, fight and pray.”
To date, Richard has printed 200 ear savers and delivered these on Good Friday. With 800 more ear savers still to be printed and delivered, Richard is tirelessly working to ensure he can support Winnipeg frontline workers as much as he can. These ear savers will be dispersed across local hospitals and other healthcare facilities where they are needed. On top of the ear savers, Richard is also continuing to print face shields that will continue to be distributed to local healthcare professionals.
We are proud of Richard’s commitment to his community and desire to keep those safe on the front lines. His ingenuity and technology know-how is a continuous asset to Number TEN and the community – we really can’t say enough good things about Richard.
Update: Alejandro Villegas-Gazquez is an architectural technician in our Victoria office and has made 110 visors on his home 3D printer for the Michael Garron Hospital in Toronto to help protect front line workers. The generosity of our staff continues to inspire us everyday.
Aaron Pollock is an architect at Number TEN Architectural Group