May 21, 2020Print | PDF
If two makers are better than one, then a community of makers is best — especially when there is a shortage of personal protective equipment during a global pandemic.
The Wilfrid Laurier University Library Makerspace is part of the large maker community in Waterloo Region dedicated to printing 3-D parts and pieces for the Community Shield face shield, the forerunner to the renowned laser-cut Canadian Shield face shield developed by Laurier alumnus Jeremy Hedges (BA ‘15) of InkSmith. Collaborating through a Slack channel, members of the 500-plus maker group continue to organize the production, assembly and distribution of face shields to frontline healthcare workers throughout Ontario and across Canada.
“This is a great community to be part of,” says Darin White, who delivers Makerspace programming at Laurier’s Waterloo campus. “Everyone is doing what they’re good at, which makes us an efficient group.”
Using three newly acquired 3-D printers, the Makerspace has become adept at printing the plastic headbands that hold the Community Shield’s clear, laser-cut plastic faceplate in place. The printers, purchased with a donation from Wilfrid Laurier University Alumni Association (WLUAA), were en route to the Library Makerspace when the university moved employees to work-from-home arrangements mid-March. The Library redirected the delivery of the printers to White’s home to continue their support for the project remotely.
Running the printers upwards of 16 hours per day, White can produce between 20 and 30 headbands. To date, more than 500 purple and yellow headbands have been printed with the 3-D printers in White’s home.
Although the headbands are printed in his home, White sees the contribution to the Community Shield project as a Laurier-wide effort.
With support from University Librarian Gohar Ashoughian, White and Associate University Librarian Gord Bertrand spearheaded the Laurier Library’s involvement in the Community Shield maker community in early March. Laurier’s general counsel provided White and Bertrand with legal guidance, and the government and community relations team helped to connect the Library Makerspace and Faculty of Science Maker Lab with opportunities to integrate the university’s maker capabilities into wider community efforts. Staff from Laurier’s health and safety team also worked with White to ensure he had safe at-home printing processes in place.
“Incredible things happen when our community comes together to share passion and expertise that enables positive impact,” says Ashoughian. “I am thankful for the contributions of Darin, Gord and all of our campus and community partners to this project, and the WLUAA for their generous gift which allowed us to purchase additional 3-D printers and support such an important endeavour.”
As of May 6, more than 10,500 Community Shield face shields have been distributed by project partner KwartzLab to frontline healthcare workers. But there is more work to be done. More volunteers are needed to print face shield parts, disinfect and assemble the final product. Supplies such as filament, bleach and cleaning rags are also needed.
“This is part of a bigger thing going on and it’s moving quickly, but we are enthusiastic partners in this collective effort,” says White.
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