Frontline health-care workers at Bluewater Health will soon have a little extra protection thanks to the efforts of a city teenager, his made-in-Sarnia protective gear, and a local office supply business.
Jared Waller, the owner of Radiant 3D Printing, is producing 1,000 medical-grade face shields for hospital staff treating COVID-19 patients.
“They actually quite liked the idea,” said Waller, 19. “It’s pretty rewarding, it’s hard to describe the feeling. It’s also pretty neat to help out in such a big way.”
According to Lambton County, Waller’s face shields were tested and approved for use at the hospital on Thursday. The first batch will be delivered this week.
3D printers use a computer design to build custom objects layer by layer using robotic heads.
The finished face shields are made of three parts. The headband mounts are printed and the face shields cut from clear plastic. Using his two printers, Waller can currently produce eight shields in 17 hours.
“I tried to keep it as simple as possible,” he said.
And help is on the way from Lambton County, which is putting the library’s 3D printers into service, the cultural services manager told The Journal.
“Although the libraries remain closed under provincial order, we have made special arrangements to provide access to the equipment for this project at the Sarnia Library Makerspace,” said Andrew Meyer.
With the additional capacity, Waller expects he can deliver the 1,000-shield order in less than a month. The raw materials that arrive in spools are the biggest delay, Waller said.
Meanwhile, Manley’s Basics in Point Edward has donated 700 laminated sheets to make the clear, protective shields.
Bluewater Health’s communication chief said “literally hundreds” of community members are coming forward with DIY healthcare solutions to support the hospital as it grapples a daily influx of coronavirus cases.
Providing health-care workers with enough personal protective equipment (PPE) is one of the biggest issues facing the hospital, she said.
“At this point in time… we are truly looking at every single opportunity for either conserving or inventing PPE,” hospital spokesperson Julia Oosterman said.
“This local solution is one of many we are exploring, and we are so grateful.
Waller, a Northern Collegiate grad, used a grant to start his 3D print company last year. He learned of a free face shield design plan through the 3D printer manufacturer.
Family members working in long-term care tested the early prototypes, he said.