Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

Printing protection

DC’s high school ‘makers’ fire 3D printers to create equipment

- BY ASHRAF KHALIL

WASHINGTON — It started in late March with a self-professed high school “news junkie” and a lone 3D printer.

Georgetown Day School senior Jonah Docter-Loeb was transfixed by television footage of the “suffering on such a large scale” caused by the coronaviru­s pandemic.

After learning that supplies of protective medical gear were being depleted, DocterLoeb sought a way to help.

He tapped into the online community of “makers” — 3D printer enthusiast­s — and found an open-source design for a welder’s maskstyle face shield he could print at home.

Things moved quickly from there.

In less than a month, that idea has mushroomed into Print to Protect, a network of around 100 3D printers, most in individual homes, producing face shields for distributi­on to Washington-area hospitals. The group says it has printed 3,000 shields so far with a goal of completing 10,000 in April.

“For a lot of us, it can be overwhelmi­ng what’s happening,” said Emily Scarrow, a junior at the private school and part of a collective of students running the project. She said working on the campaign helped her deal with the feelings of “helplessne­ss and isolation” of the ongoing stay-at-home orders.

The supplies are much-needed as Washington and the larger capital region of southern Maryland and northern Virginia braces for a looming surge.

Twice a week, volunteer drivers such as William Olsen gather up the printed materials from people’s homes. To maintain social distancing and reduce personal interactio­ns, residents leave the newly printed parts in a sealed bag or box on their porches.

“I have a car, and I have a bunch of free time. I’m privileged, and this is the least I can do,” said Olsen, a Georgetown Day junior who is thinking of studying medicine.

The parts are delivered to Eaton DC, a communal workspace downtown that’s serving as a distributi­on hub. There, more volunteers assemble the two basic components — a plastic headband and a clear sheet of flexible plastic that hangs in front of the face.

The Print to Protect campaign is just part of a larger effort working in independen­t pockets among the area’s “maker” community.

When Rob Ryan-Silva’s employer, U.S. Agency for Internatio­nal Developmen­t contractor DAI, sent everyone home, he carried out a pair of 3D printers.

“A little to my wife’s chagrin, they’re in our guest bedroom, and I’m running a little factory out of there,” he said.

One of them is the standard home-style printer “about the size of a microwave on its side” that he uses to print face shields. The other is a larger and most sophistica­ted machine that he’s used to fill a specific request from Washington’s fire department: a special nozzle that would enable ambulance crews to swap filters on the breathing-aid machine in the their ambulances.

The items he produces are collected and distribute­d by a similar maker-collective organized by Nova Labs in Reston, Va. The face shields take about four hours each to print. He estimates he’s made 50 face shields and 80 nozzles.

“It really does add up when you have a larger community doing this,” he said.

“I have a car, and I have a bunch of free time. I’m privileged, and this is the least I can do.” — William Olsen, a volunteer who picks up 3D printed materials from people’s homes and delivers them for assembly

 ?? (AP/Jacquelyn Martin) ?? Will Olsen, 17, of Kensington, Md., places bags holding pieces for medical face shields printed using personal 3D printers into his car to deliver the bags to the Eaton Hotel in downtown Washington for assembly.
(AP/Jacquelyn Martin) Will Olsen, 17, of Kensington, Md., places bags holding pieces for medical face shields printed using personal 3D printers into his car to deliver the bags to the Eaton Hotel in downtown Washington for assembly.
 ??  ?? Olsen picks up bags holding pieces for medical face shields.
Olsen picks up bags holding pieces for medical face shields.
 ??  ?? Olsen holds a
bag of pieces for medical face shields.
Olsen holds a bag of pieces for medical face shields.
 ??  ?? Pieces for medical face shields await transport in Kensington, Md.
Pieces for medical face shields await transport in Kensington, Md.
 ??  ?? Olsen delivers bags holding pieces for medical face shields to the Eaton Hotel in
Washington.
Olsen delivers bags holding pieces for medical face shields to the Eaton Hotel in Washington.

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