This month, instead of focusing on one individual for our Hacker of the Month, we had to take time to spotlight the efforts of the entire 3D Printing Community for coming together to help tackle the PPE shortage by 3D printing face shields and mask extenders for healthcare workers around the United States. The response from the community has been nothing short of miraculous; thanks to their efforts, thousands of nurses, doctors, respiratory therapists, and more healthcare professionals in almost every state have been given vital personal protective equipment (PPE) to allow them to continue their fight against COVID-19.

Thousands of people around the country answered the call to print in small batches and send 3D printed face shield visors and mask extenders to MatterHackers as part of our Maker Response Hub effort. With the volume of combined contributions from these incredible Makers, we were able to distribute tens of thousands of 3D printed PPE items to healthcare organizations from California to New York, from Alaska to Florida. Face shields and mask extenders were sent far and wide to help keep our amazing healthcare workers safe, so they can continue the fight against COVID-19.

From large hospital organizations, like the Mayo Clinic to Children’s Hospital in Phoenix, to hospice care personnel and ambulance providers, as well as dentists and eye care workers, we were able to distribute over 40,000 pieces of equipment. Working with so many different Makers was an amazing experience, and because of their hard work and dedication, many healthcare workers were able to complete their duties protected with NIH reviewed, 3D printed PPE.

The 3D printed items that were distributed were reviewed by the National Institutes of Health for clinical use. As of this article, there were eleven approved face shield designs, three mask extender designs, and one surgical mask design reviewed for 3D printing.

Nearly 5000 volunteers signed up to help 3D print for these efforts, and we wish we could send a personal Thank You to each and every one.  We received 3D printed parts from large and small businesses who pivoted their normal production to make shields, including Gantri, Purple Hobbies, BIG Architecture, and many more. We've been inspired by students and educators like Bill White (Avonworth Middle School), Thomas Harder (Long Beach Unified), and Chapman University.  And none of this would have been possible without the partnership of other organizations of makers across the country who teamed up with us to make a difference in their local communities, like NYCMakesPPE, Open Works, 3DPPGH, and Phoenixville COVID19 Makers Group to name only a few.  Without their help, the situation that healthcare workers faced, and continue to face, may have been much worse - thank you!