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A local teacher is 3D-printing face shields for healthcare workers

As health care workers continue to struggle with the critical shortage of gloves and masks in Denver, an engineering teacher in Lakewood is trying to help.

LAKEWOOD, Colo. — In a garage-turned 3D-printing factory, Matthew Brown and his 12-year-old daughter, Amelia, are working overtime. 

"I saw people were printing equipment and masks so I just brought my printers home and started printing," said Matthew Brown in his garage Monday afternoon, surrounded by printers and packaging. 

Brown is a high school STEM Teacher at Warren Tech, part of Lakewood High School. He's taught pre-engineering and additive manufacturing for 17 years, so 3D printing is in his wheelhouse.

When he heard about the personal protective equipment (PPE) shortage, Brown and his daughter wanted to help. 

"I knew I wanted to find somebody who would take what we could print. And I wanted to make sure I was printing something that was useful," he said.

Credit: KUSA
Matthew Brown and his 12-year-old daughter are 3D-printing face shields in Lakewood.

After a lot of research, he found Make4Covid, a local group just formed at the end of March.

“It’s a mix of do-it-yourself people, hobbyists and professionals who are gathering together and exploring what can be done,” said Omar Soubra, a Make4Covid spokesperson

The group acts as the liaison between people like Brown who can make protective equipment at home and the hospitals in need.

Medical shield masks are what the group is focusing on right now. Normally this equipment is used in conjunction with other forms of PPE to help keep the facial area protected from splashes, sprays and spatter of body fluids, according to the National Institutes of Health.

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With the direction from Make4Covid, Brown and his daughter started printing face shields and haven't stopped.

It takes anywhere from eight to nine hours to print a batch of four face shields on one of the printers in Brown's garage. It's slow work, but they're eager to do their part. Already the father-daughter duo has printed more than 100 face shields in two weeks.

"I think when something like this is happening, we should all jump in if we can," Amelia said. "Every 3D printer helps just a little."

Make4Covid is looking for donations and more makers like Matthew and Amelia Brown.  

“Being a maker doesn’t necessarily mean having a 3D printer,” said Lauren Hebert, one of the founders of Make4Covid. “You might also be a sewer, and we’re going to need help from folks like that. There are lots of people in the crafting community who can jump in and help us.

"The truth is,' Hebert said, "we are all makers in some way and we need folks who have that 'maker mindset' and are willing to just jump in.”

Click here if you’re interested in helping or donating.