Network In Washington Creates Protectors With 3D Printers

WASHINGTON (AP) – It all started in late March with a self-proclaimed “news junkie” high school teenager and a single 3D printer.

Jonah Docter-Loeb, a senior at Georgetown Day School, was engrossed in television footage of the suffering caused by the new coronavirus pandemic.


After learning of the shortage of protective medical equipment, Docter-Loeb looked for ways to help. He entered an online community of “manufacturers” – 3D printer buffs – and found an open source design for a welding mask face shield that he could print himself at home.

Things flowed fairly quickly thereafter.

In less than a month, that idea was transformed into Print to Protect, a network of approximately 100 3D printers, most of them for home use, that produce face shields for distribution in Washington-area hospitals. . The group says it has printed about 3,000 masks so far and that it has a goal of manufacturing 10,000 in April.

“For many of us, what is happening can be overwhelming,” said Emily Scarrow, a junior in a private school and part of a group of students who run the project. Scarrow said collaborating on the campaign has helped her deal with the feeling of “helplessness and isolation” that current confinement measures can cause.

Supplies are in great demand as Washington and the larger capital region of southern Maryland and northern Virginia prepare for an impending surge.

Twice a week, several volunteer drivers like William Olsen collect printed materials from the collaborators’ homes. In order to maintain social distance and reduce personal interaction, residents leave newly printed parts in a bag or sealed boxes in front of their homes.

“I have a car and a lot of free time. I feel privileged and this is the least I can do, ”said Olsen, a third-year Georgetown Day student who aspires to study medicine.

The parts are delivered to Eaton DC, a downtown community center that now serves as a distribution center. There, more volunteers assemble the two basic components: a plastic band and a transparent plastic sheet that hangs in front of the face.

The Print to Protect campaign is just one part of several efforts using independent funds among the area’s “manufacturer” community.

In most people, the new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms that disappear in two to three weeks. In some people, especially older adults and those with underlying health conditions, it can lead to more serious illnesses, such as pneumonia, and even death.