Maker Creativity helps fill the gap during the coronavirus outbreak

Maker Creativity helps fill the gap during the coronavirus outbreak
PPE face shield parts printed from 3D printer

By Valerie Hendel | Around the PCS office, we’ve come to expect little surprises in the shape of plastic lizards, turtles, little building models or the faces of our colleagues morphed into superhero merch. PCS’s Sage Cowsert and Evan Olszko are Makers, and despite their work-from-home confinements, their 3D printers are in full swing printing safety face shield parts being used to create personal protective equipment for the face. Creatives will find a way.
“There are a limited number of face shields, and they need to go to health care workers at the front lines,” says Cowsert. “We also have all these people helping us without any protection at all: The guy at Quiznos or Costco—they are also helping. Our job is to fill the gap.”
The Maker community has long nurtured a sharing ethos, and the Makers of the Lacey MakerSpace—a collective of individuals each working from their homes—are busy organizing and sharing information about how best to create face shields that are distributed throughout Thurston County.
Sage and Evan have their printers in full production printing shield parts of PLA, a relatively inexpensive material that is biodegradable, can be sterilized, and is safe to print in home environments. One spool of PLA filament will produce about 18 shields. “We’re actually 3D Printing part of a face shield since there are no clinical masks available yet. The part Sage and I are printing is the orange piece in the image above from NIH 3D Print Exchange,” says Olszko. “They have two approved face shield designs and lots of masks that still need to be tested.”
Once printed, the lot is delivered to be assembled with the plastic attachment and then distributed. Screens and elastic are in short supply, but Makers keep on printing. “Once you learn from somebody, it produces a feeling of giving back,” continues Cowsert. “If I can help protect one person, then I will do it.”
The precious value of sharing that defines the Maker community stands as a brilliant reminder of how we can be—Creating, innovating, and sharing.
Lacey MakerSpace is looking for materials, organizers and Makers. To learn more, go to or find a Maker community near you.