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Cedar Rapids organizations form 3-D printing network to fill need of protective shield masks

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3-D printers at NewBoCo

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KWWL) -- Amid a national shortage of protective face shields for health care workers, Eastern Iowa businesses, non-profits, and organizations have gotten creative to help find a short term solution.

NewBoCo, BeraTek Industries, Cedar Rapids Community Schools, and UI's Proto Studios have partnered together to utilize 3-D printers to make protective shields to donate to local hospitals.

The effort started after owner of BeraTek Industries, Gerald Beranek and NewBoCo's Executive Director, Eric Engelmann saw an urgent post from the University of Iowa Hospital and Clinics asking for donations.

Urgent request: We are asking for donations of new or used protective face shields to our hospital, to offset a national...

Posted by University of Iowa Hospitals & Clinics on Sunday, 22 March 2020

Using the connections and expertise between the two organizations they've worked to set up a community 3-D printing network.

"From a financial perspective, it makes zero sense but from a humanity perspective, it makes perfect sense," said Beranek.

NewBoCo has become ground zero for a community-wide effort to print and assemble protective face shields after getting 13 printers on loan from the Cedar Rapids Community School District.

"Hospitals are just using personal protective equipment way faster than they normally do," said Engelmann, "So there's this gap until the good stuff comes in, they need a temporary answer to protect the staff protects the patients, and so we're trying to build temporary usable stuff that will solve most of the problem."

#IowaStrong — Filling the need for healthcare workers

HAPPENING NOW — 3D printers are hard at work at NewBoCo making protective face shields for medical personnel at local hospitals. These efforts began Sunday & so far the Executive Director says they’ve created a network of 100 Iowans with their own printers who are working to join in. We’ll have the details tonight at 5 & 6 pm.

Posted by KWWL on Wednesday, 25 March 2020

NewBoCo, a non-profit that helps businesses innovate, and BeraTek Industry have worked with UI Proto Studios to work on a design for the shields.

Beranek said they started with an open-source design found online and worked from there.

"We started there and then me being an engineer manufacturing expert I just created my own quick that I knew would be quick and easy to put together," said Beranek.

Right now Englemann is working with health care professionals to perfect the design, one that can be quickly assembled.

"If this goes really badly for society we might need 100,000 units across all the hospitals in Iowa. That's the only way we're going to get there within the next you know five days," said Englemann.

"One probably takes between three and four hours to print. And so, you can't do with one printer you have to have many printers, and so that's where the community came in," said Beranek.

Since Sunday, around 100 Iowans with 3-D printers of their own to get involved as everyone tries to do their small part.

"I have friends and family in the healthcare industry and I don't want them to get sick and so everybody needs it it's just, it's the human thing to do," said Beranek.

Engelmann has also put up instructions on how to make a DIY shield even if you don't have a 3-D printer. That information can be found by clicking here.

More information about the project and how to get involved can be found here:

Ashley Neighbor

Reporter, Cedar Rapids

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