When St. Petersburg College’s Humanities and Fine Arts Chair Jonathan Barnes heard that his friend was looking for face protection for his job as an emergency room physician in Ocala, Barnes started looking around online and found a way to help, using his personal 3D printer.
Since the COVID-19 outbreak began in the United States, many challenges have presented themselves for healthcare providers, including an immediate shortage of protective gear.
Barnes found an open source design for a face shield from a Czech company, Prusa, who make 3D printers. He tried one, made a few tweaks, and then set about making the much-needed items. Though he used his personal 3D printer to make the first few masks, Barnes saw he’d need backup.
“I quickly realized it wasn’t enough,” he said.
With permission to bring home two printers from SPC’s Humanities and Fine Arts department, his output increased, and over the past few days, other people have offered up their printers for the cause, after seeing Barnes’ posts on social media.
“Right now, we can make six shields every four hours,” he said
Once the machine has done its work, the hands-on part of production begins.
“The clear part is mylar stencil film, which is hand cut, and the holes are punched with a three-hole punch I modified to make it a little quicker,” Barnes said.
Barnes is making the shields in addition to scrambling to get two of his classes online, help other instructors and fill other roles while he and his family are self-quarantining.
“I’m making masks, but I’m also teaching my classes, doing the rest of my job and acting as a first grade teacher and short-order cook,” he said.
Friends, family and word of mouth have made the orders fly in. So far, Barnes has donated more than 30 shields to doctors in Clearwater, Orlando, St. Petersburg, Ocala and Sarasota. He even sent some all the way to Baltimore, Maryland.
“The doctor who picked them up yesterday was super excited because the supplies are incredibly limited,” Barnes said. “The feedback from all the doctors has been really positive.”
Barnes says he will continue to make and donate the shields as long as he has materials to do so, because he feels it’s a great way to help out in the community during a trying time, especially for healthcare providers.
“It seems like the right thing to do,” he said. “Those people are the front line heroes going into battle without proper equipment.”