BALTIMORE (WJZ) — When Baltimore’s nonprofit maker-space Open Works canceled all of its revenue-generating classes and events, 21 of its part-time employees were laid off.

But it was able to rehire many of them recently for a new cause–3D printing face shields.

CORONAVIRUS COVERAGE:

After he spoke with health department officials and representatives of LifeBridge Health and Johns Hopkins, Open Works’ Executive Director Will Holman called out on the organization’s social media pages asking for makers with 3D printers to help make face shields.

“We had laser cutters, and assembling space, and a workforce we wanted to reactivate, but we didn’t have nearly enough 3D printers to make the masks at the level of demand. Right now, our goal is to be making 100 sterile units per day and raise $10,000 by Friday, March 27. Distribution and healthcare interfacing is being handled by our friends at Innovation Works,” Holman said.

He saw a prototype online for a 3D face shield. Now, Open Works has nearly 160 volunteers with 414 printers making face shields, and once the printing starts, makers will drop off the face shields at Open Works.

The nonprofit will sterilize them, assemble them together and package them into groups of 10, the organization said. Then they’ll sit untouched for a few days to allow other potential contaminants to die, and will be distributed to hospitals around the area.

“We see this is a critical bridge to a time when there’s more supply available,” Holman said.

Holman said the goal is to make 100 face shields per day and raise $10,000 by March 27. They’re currently working to figure out how to produce the shields as safely as possible.

“They are working on prototyping now. They have to order the face shield plastic part and then laser cut those at Open Works, and will work to 3D print the straps and then assemble,” Nicole Atkinson, Open Work’s PR representative, said in an email Sunday.

It’s a critical need for hospitals like LifeBridge’s with some supplies back-ordered until August.

“We are having trouble with the supply chains getting supplies for us and availability,” said Tom Jeffers, the corporate director of emergency management at LifeBridge Hospitals.

LifeBridge is adding beds and repurposing its most vital equipment like air-purifying respirator hoods.

Jeffers said he feels prepared should there be an influx of patients.

“All of the hospitals have surge plans that allows us to repurpose areas within our hospitals to add additional beds if need be,” he said.

Baltimore Center Stage saw a similar need and realized they too could help. With all of the group’s live performances canceled, their costume and production department is using their time to make masks for Mercy Hospital.

On Facebook Sunday, the group said it made the masks to conform to CDC and hospital guidelines. They should be delivered this week.

Loyola University Maryland is one of the groups making 3D masks.

Anyone who wants to help 3D print can sign up online: http://bit.ly/callingall3dprinters.  For those without printers but who want to offer support, Open Works is also accepting donations.

For the latest information on coronavirus go to the Maryland Health Department’s website or call 211. You can find all of WJZ’s coverage on coronavirus in Maryland here.

Rachel Menitoff

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