BY BETH DEDMAN
Makelab, a Brooklyn-based 3D-printing company, has repurposed plastic binder dividers to create face shields to go to hospitals in New York City.
Makelab uses foam, rubber bands, clear visors, boxes, instructions and clear bags for packing to deliver sterile face masks. When procuring the clear visors became a problem, the team discovered that plastic binder covers were a perfect substitute because they were the perfect size and had holes that could align with the visor.
“We decided to get involved because we saw a huge need and an opportunity to help,” said Christina Perla, founder and CEO of MakeLab. “One of 3D printing’s best advantages is that it offers an agile and lean supply chain. It was too good of a match to not get involved with. Especially with Makelab’s ability to handle volume while retaining quality service, it just made sense for us. We thought – we could handle this, so let’s do it.”
The Makelab team is producing full Protective Face Shield kits and manufacturing them on-demand as they are requested. They are manufactured at a cost of $9.25.
Many of their orders come from out of state, but a lot of individuals are ordering the shields to donate to hospitals.
“The hospitals in NYC are so flooded right now, especially because we are at our apex this week and next,” Perla said. “They don’t have time to respond or reach out or do research on where they can get shields. They really need outsiders to make the connection for them and ready-made products to just appear. It’s been amazing to see people ordering a countless number of shields to then ship directly to a hospital or a contact they know.”
Makelabs sends at least five shield orders out every day. They are manufacturing the shields at-cost in order to pay their team, but they have donated 200 shields to the Trader Joe’s in Downtown Brooklyn.
They are seeking donations for raw materials, such as the foam and the binders, to prevent a gap in their supply chain.
“It’s amazing to see the entire 3D printing community come together and create designs that really help,” Perla said. “There are a few designs we are looking to offer or already offer, like mask extenders, bias tape makers, door hooks, and custom mask fitters that uses a 3D scanning app. These devices help existing medical PPE function just a tad better and make them more comfortable to wear over extended periods of time. There are a ton of sewers out there too that are making fabric masks who could really use the bias tape maker. We’re excited to offer more.”
More information about Makelab is available at https://makelab.nyc/covid-19/