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.


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