ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – The need for protective personal equipment -- things like face shields, gloves and ear savers continue to be in high demand -- due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“We gotta take care of these people so they can take care of us,” Jeff Oswald, a media specialist with Cypress Creek High School said about health care workers. “These are the people that are in danger. I’m just sitting here, you know, at my house playing with 3D printers.”
Oswald, who has worked with Orange County Public Schools for almost three decades, is among 20 other teachers volunteering to make face shields. To help out with the demand, they brought home 3D printers from several county public schools. Oswald already had two of his own 3D printers at home and added four more from his school. All six printers are set up in his dining room.
"Almost all of OCPS 3D printers are at somebody's house right now making parts for face shields," he said.
OCPS says ever since the teachers started to volunteer with the manufacturing of PPE, about 5,000 items have been donated throughout Central Florida, including ear savers which can be used with surgical face masks.
Oswald is making two styles of face shields. One is a thicker frame, which he says takes about three hours to make one.
"It holds a pretty hefty shield that somebody else is laser cutting out of a piece of acrylic and requires a strap that goes around the back. This is what ORMC wants. That's what they want downtown," he said.
The other type of shield is thinner and takes about half an hour to make.
“We dropped off a bunch of these at the Advent Health in Tavares,” Oswald said.
And to find out what hospitals and medical centers are in need of PPE, Oswald checks the GetUsPPE.org website. It’s an online resource created by physicians and health care researchers on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Among the group of volunteers is 17-year-old Ibrahim Khater. The Cypress Creek student said he decided to put his personal 3D printer to use and also brought home four other OCPS 3D printers.
“I had the capabilities, I had nothing else to do with it so I might as well put them to use and do something good with it,” Khater said. So far, he’s printed 80 face shields and is waiting for a shipment of filament to continue printing more.
“This means a lot to me because I’ve always loved 3D printing and I’ve always loved helping people," he said. "I’ve been able to combine the two and be able to do something for them, especially for health care workers who are always risking their lives everyday especially in these trying times,” Khater said.
OCPS says about 5,000 PPE items have been made.
The volunteers are using their own money for supplies. To help out with the cost of ink, shipping, transportation and other items needed for 3D printing, a GoFund me page was set up.
To make a donation, click here.