GE Appliances (GEA) and FirstBuild are teaming with the maker community and the University of Louisville (UofL) to manufacture face shields for healthcare workers and first responders.
Using 3-D technology at both the GEA printing labs and its FirstBuild microfactory, engineers are producing shields that will be donated to the medical community through UofL. The UofL Additive Manufacturing Institute of Science and Technology, which is located next to and collaborates with FirstBuild, is also creating face shields for local hospitals.
"As the doctors, nurses and many other important healthcare employees work to protect our community during this time and keep us safe, we're continuing to contribute the necessary resources to support and help protect them," said Kevin Nolan, president and CEO of GE Appliances.
To ramp up production of the shields, FirstBuild has mobilized the maker community. Randy Reeves, FirstBuild director of manufacturing operations, connected with local makers and GEA suppliers to join in producing the shields. John Riley with Maker13, a makerspace in Southern Indiana, offered to print parts, and then ramped up to produce the headbands by the thousands with support from Samtec and Jones Machine & Tool, Inc.
Owings Patterns, a supplier to Appliance Park, called with an offer to mass produce the clear shields. They quickly tooled up and are now producing in the thousands as well.
"This is truly an example of what can happen when the maker community rallies together," said Larry Portaro, FirstBuild's executive director.
As part of this effort, GEA and FirstBuild are also putting out a call for even more makers. Nick Okruch, GEA technical director for 3-D technologies, said the 3-D printed headband used for the shields can be produced on home 3-D printers. Makers who are able to pitch in and produce the headbands can drop them off outside of FirstBuild at 333 E. Brandeis Ave.
"And we'll make sure the University of Louisville gets them," Okruch said. "This is just one way we can help with our abilities in this time where people need our help. We look forward to seeing what this GEA community can do."