Why DIY 3D-Printed Face Masks and Shields Are So Risky?

  • Tue, 17 Nov 2020 08:36:23 GMT
  • 917

Lots of people are trying to help by making their own protective equipment for health workers. But there isn’t enough guidance to help them do it safely.

3D-Printed Face Masks
Brian Lovett shows off one of his 3D-printed masks. Brian Lovett

Brian Lovett, a product manager at an ad-tech firm in Denver, started 3D-printing quaint little knickknacks—coffee coasters and orchids pots—for his home back in 2018. But when the coronavirus pandemic hit his city, two of Lovett’s close friends, both doctors in the emergency room of Denver Health, told him that their supplies of protective equipment would run dry within 10 days. So, Lovett set his 3D printers on a different task: churning out protective face masks at a rate of 20 each day. Like a wartime Father Christmas, Lovett delivers the masks to his friends each morning, leaving them on their doorsteps in vacuum-sealed boxes.

Lovett is one of thousands across America who have repurposed 3D-printing machinery to produce medical equipment, such as face shields and face masks, for doctors on the front lines of the pandemic, bypassing the government and usually taking no profit in return. In the absence of clear government guidance, these hobbyists—as well as small 3D-printing factories—often rely on friends working at hospitals to inform their designs as well as advice from like-minded volunteers online.

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