Opens Works Makes Face Shields for Health Workers


With the spread of COVID-19 globally, it’s an understatement to say that this is a scary time in history. And it can be hard to find hope. Yet, here’s a great story coming to us from Baltimore nonprofit Open Works.

Open Works is a makerspace. The organization is well known for being a place where people can learn, grow and practice new skills such 3D printing, textiles work, digital fabrication and more. Like many companies around Maryland, their innovative and also revenue-generating programs had to be canceled as we limit interactions to prevent the spread of the virus; 21 of their part-time workers were laid off last week.

face shields
Will Holman (photo: David Stuck)

New purpose

But executive director Will Holman found a way to give work and purpose to the makers around Maryland, and even some of his staff. Open Works is now creating a 3D printed face shield to help medical workers and hospital staff who may run out of equipment. About 160 volunteers, with a total of 414 printers, have already signed up to help the effort.

We interviewed Will Holman in December. Here’s what he had to say then about community.

“The entire premise of Open Works as an organization has been to build community, and when you take away the ability to physically congregate, community can quickly go away,” Holman said in a news release. “This is a beautiful and useful way for people to come together.”

A goal for Friday

Right now, Open Works’ team hopes to make 100 sterile units per day and raise $10,000 by Friday, March 27. Distribution and healthcare interfacing is being handled by Innovation Works. Made in Baltimore, BCAN, LifeBridge Health, Johns Hopkins Hospital and the Maryland State Health Department also consulted on the effort.

Once created by volunteers, the face shields will be dropped off to Open Works. There, workers will sanitize and package them in groups of 10. At that point, the face shields will remain in quarantine for a few days to further ensure that any contagions expire before they are distributed to hospitals.

How you can help

Open Works continues to look for help from those with and without 3D printers. Readers with a 3D printer and who would like to help out the effort, can find the online sign-up page here.

For those without printers, donations are being taken to help cover wages for the part-time workers at Open Works, along with the necessary packaging for the face shields.

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