Making A Difference

Chicago Man Using 3D Printers To Help Protect Hospital Staff During Coronavirus Pandemic

The man is using the devices to help make face shields and the idea has taken off

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Worried about doctors and nurses on the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic, Richard Beien saw an opportunity to jump into action, using 3D printers to create face shields for medical professionals dealing with the crisis.

“Anybody will be able to do this. Basically, I designed the headpiece so that it uses very minimal material. It uses the most standard material for 3D printers and  it prints within an hour,” Beien said.

Beien, 33, came up with the idea after taking with his neighbor, who works at Swedish Hospital, part of the NorthShore Universithy HealthSystem.

“Swedish has been ecstatic about it. They basically got it approved and they asked us to make as many as we can,” Beien said.

Using three 3D printers in his basement, Beien described how the machines make the plastic head piece. The shield itself is straight from an office supply store.

“It's like a standard 8.5 x 11 report cover. You just use a standard hole puncher to punch out the three holes and it clips to the 3D printed part, and you've got a face shield,” Beien said, describing the process.

“Faced with the surge of patients that we are expecting with COVID-19 in the weeks and months ahead, it is critical that we maintain a healthy workforce,” said Dr. Shameem Abbasy , the Medical Director of the Swedish Medical Group.

Dr. Abbasy says the shields won’t replace the need for N95 respirators, but will help the hospital conserve precious resources at a time when shortages pose a serious threat to the safety of medical professionals and the patients they care for.

“The recommendation right now is to wear a mask and eye protection for patient care and reserve N95 respirators for high risk procedures, like intubation,” Dr. Abbasy said.

With help from his mom, Deborah, and family members, Beien put the printing instructions online, making them free for everyone to use.

More than 100 people responded within 24 hours.

“We're at home. We're safe. We're with our family and a lot of people have either contracted the virus or are working on the front lines, and we wanted to contribute in any way that we could,” Beien said.

“It is extremely inspiring to know that our community members and individuals are stepping forward to support us,” Dr. Abbasy said.

Swedish Hospital is also appealing to the public to contribute the following donated items if possible:

  • N95 Face Masks
  • Isolation gowns
  • Goggles and face masks
  • Gloves
  • Splash guard masks
  • Virex Plus and 3M Quat disinfectant
  • Cloth bleach wipes and super-sani cloth wipes

Those with items to donate are encouraged to visit the Swedish Covenant website

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