"Our business, Walker Custom Metal, offers custom metal art, 3D printing, vinyl cutting, and powder coating. Pre-pandemic, we were mostly producing decorative metal signs, like house numbers and door hangers. We were 3D printing some small custom items. Brian saw that there was a need for the 3D-printed face shields but he didn’t know how we would be able to find out who needed them in the community. One evening, we saw on the news that a group of artists at Abode Studios, was sewing cloth masks and gowns and donating them to local medical facilities. Abode had a website set up where medical professionals could submit requests for different items they needed. One of the more requested items were the 3D printed face shields. The Abode team had one 3D printer, but we had four. So, when we reached out to them about volunteering, they were excited to have our help.
We were able to keep the machines running pretty much around the clock; we set our phone alarms to remove the completed shield and restart the program every 20-30 minutes. Brian made adjustments to the design to make it print more efficiently, using less material and printing faster. And, he often woke up in the middle of the night to check on the machines. In about one month, we printed and delivered over 1,000 face shields and more than 300 ear savers. We also helped raise several thousand dollars, through donations from our friends and family, to go toward Abode’s 'Mask Force' initiative.
Having the ability to do something productive made me feel more in control. When we first started isolating ourselves and the governor signed the shelter in place order, I was scared and felt helpless. When Brian brought this project to me, he was excited—he loves creating and he loves helping, so it was perfect for him. And, it made me feel like we were doing a little something to help; we had a purpose and a goal to work towards and that was comforting.
One facility’s respiratory unit said our face shields were some of the best PPE they had at the time. All of our donations were met with a lot of gratitude. Our friends and family contributed several thousand dollars to help purchase materials used to make the face shields, ear savers, and masks and gowns. We were on the news and a number of people from the community emailed us to thank us for the work we were doing. Strangers reached out to ask what they could do to help. We were able to see how the community was really coming together."