AGENTS OF SHIELD
N.Y. couple use 3D printer to protect hundreds of health workers
An upstate New York couple used 3D printing know-how to create special face shields for local healthcare workers dealing with the coronavirus crisis.
And now they may end up helping people all over the world.
Isaac Budmen and Stephanie Keefe own and operate Budmen Industries, a company in Liverpool — about 6 miles northwest of downtown Syracuse — that manufactures and sells custom 3D printers.
When Budmen and Keefe heard last week that a coronavirus testing site was being set up in Syracuse, they wanted to do something.
“We started thinking about how can we help, what is something that we could do, with the resources available to us, to help the healthcare workers,” Budmen, 30, told the Daily News.
That’s when they started reading in the press about the desperate need for face shields — clear plastic shields that protect the wearers’ face. The shields extend an inch or two in front of someone’s nose, and leave users enough room to wear a surgical mask underneath.
“We thought, that’s something a 3D printer can do,” he said.
So the couple began developing ideas, and after several prototypes, produced a 3D printable face shield.
“They’re designed to be single use,” Budmen said, noting that the shields are made using biodegradable plastic.
“If we’re going to be creating all these devices and they’re all going to be used as rapidly as they are, they might as well be able to dissolve back into the environment,” he said.
Budmen Industries prints the shields themselves. Other materials on the face shields — such as the elastic bands that hold them on someone’s head, and foam tape to make them comfortable — can be bought at stores.
It takes about 58 minutes to print the pieces that make up the shields and another two minutes to assemble them.
After getting attention in a local newspaper, Budmen and Keefe have gotten help from Liverpool’s school district, which volunteered and disinfected a work space, and put teachers to work putting the masks together.
So far, they’ve created more than 300 face shields. Demand is growing as the story of their creation spread around the globe.
“We started getting emails from hospitals, nursing homes, first-responders, firefighters all over the world,” Budmen said, adding that they’ve heard from people in Brazil, Sweden, Germany and Japan, as well as in Denver, Seattle and New York City.
“There are institutions all over the world who are looking for personal protective equipment, and they want shields,” he said. “We also had 200 plus volunteers with 3D printers offering to produce these things all over the world, too.”
Budmen stressed that he isn’t looking to make money from creating the face shields.
His company has posted its shield design, files and 3D printing templates online to make them available to anyone for free.
An upstate company has developed a face shield using a 3D printer (inset) to protect healthcare workers like those above from coronavirus. The firm near Syracuse is offering the technology to other companies and is not looking to profit, only to spread the devices.