Pamton 3D: Advice from a Contract 3D Print Business Veteran

“If the house catches fire, screw the diamonds – I gotta bring my steps.”

The stairs leading to the basement of Pamela Szmara’s house are what she’s referring to, and it’s what’s on them that’s so valuable. The treasure trove is visible only once you reach the bottom and look up. Covering the exposed wooden portions of the staircase are pen marks: WiFi networks and passwords, login information to unnamed accounts. It’s a physical password manager.

It may seem like an odd solution, but it fits neatly into the package that is Pam, owner of 3D printing service bureau Pamton 3D.

The basement is home to an ensemble of 3D printers, among them two Gigabot XLT’s, to whom Pam affectionately refers as “the girls.”

“Our Gigabots are named,” she explains. “They’re Gigi One and Gigi Two.” Spelled G-i-g-i, she clarifies, but pronounced GG.

“And when the third one gets here,” she continues, “she’ll be Gigi Three.”

The Start

Pam and her husband Tony got their start in 3D printing roughly two decades ago by way of teeth.

“I’m a Certified Dental Technician,” explains Pam. “And dentistry embraced additive manufacturing.”

The introduction happened early in Pam’s career, working with Great Lakes Orthodontics, which paved the path of additive manufacturing in her life. She learned the ropes on PolyJet printers; dentistry requires ultra-high resolution that is not doable on most filament-fed, or FFF, machines. After working with Great Lakes Orthodontics for nearly 30 years, Pam ended up forging her own path, starting Pamton 3D almost ten years ago. She credits her first non-dental 3D printing job to JollyPets, a name that remains special to her in the company’s history.

As business grew while the Pamton production capacity remained the same, Pam realized something needed to change. “With the PolyJet printers, we were limited in size and materials,” she explains. “That was the big push for us to branch out into other areas of additive manufacturing.”

The Pamton production bunker lies beneath a house on a quiet residential street in Youngstown, Ohio. Pam talks of the struggles of the Rust Belt city, and praises the revitalization that Youngstown-based America Makes, a national accelerator for additive manufacturing, has brought to the landscape.

It was at an America Makes convention that Pam crossed paths with re:3D cofounder Matthew Fiedler. She bought Gigi One on the spot.

The build volume of Gigabot allowed them to better keep up with the demand of their growing contract print business by offering not only options for people looking to do larger prints, but also by doing small production batches for clients. It wasn’t long before they again found themselves pushed to their limits of production capacity, and Gigi Two entered the picture.

“We needed it. The workload…” Pam pauses. “It was amazing. You never turn down an opportunity to be involved in a project. And what was happening is that the deadlines were coming too close. And that’s a great problem to have.”

Having two Gigabots has taken a lot of stress off their plate: they’re able to run multiple projects at one time, break batches between the printers, and offer large-scale capabilities to their clients. “The advantage of the Gigabot has always been size. The companies are able to come to us with these large parts,” she says. Their longest print clocks in at over three weeks.

“The size is the thing that really sells a lot of the clients,” Pam says. “‘Woah, you can print it this large?’ ‘You can print that many pieces?’ Well yes, we can. And once companies hear about this, the work will continue to follow.”

And follow it has. Pam recounts the early days of their jump into large-scale filament printers, musing that life has never been the same since. The trajectory of their workload has been trending upwards ever since. “We had grown to where we needed the second printer,” she says, “and where we’re at right now, we will need a third.”

The Work

“From soup to nuts” is how Pam describes the Pamton 3D business model. “If it fits, we’re gonna print it,” she says.

They have done projects for large manufacturing facilities and for students, steel mills and environmentalists, construction companies and building restoration teams, for entrepreneurs who want to prototype as they bring a physical product to market. Pam recalls a job producing models for an environmental organization working to educate the public about how water should flow away from their homes and into reservoirs in order to better control pollution.

They’ve helped old industries threatened with obsolescence to replicate parts they need that are no longer being manufactured, components with no drawings or STL files. “We’re breaking new ground for them, and that’s the really exciting area of additive,” Pam muses.

The darling of their client list is NASA Glenn, who approached them at a large additive manufacturing show in Cleveland looking to produce batches of prototypes of the new Compass Satellite.

Pam realizes that it might not make sense why one of the foremost scientific research institutions in the nation turned to a basement production facility to fulfill an order that they surely must have the capability to do themselves. Yes, NASA is doing 3D printing, Pam confirms. But – “The volume of parts that they needed,” she pauses, “they never would have been able to keep up with it.” 

The beauty of Pamton 3D is that the task no longer falls on the business owner’s shoulders, whether a budding entrepreneur or a behemoth like NASA.

The Advice

“These are not plug-and-play instruments, they’re not plug-and-play toys,” Pam says, of 3D printers.

“You’re watching these four-year-olds on YouTube with the printer that their parents bought them…and it shows this four-year-old put the filament in and – whiz bang – there’s the part.” Pamton steps in to fill the chasm that lies between the internet persona of 3D printers as magical creation boxes and the reality of technology that takes time and dedication to master.

“With Pamton being a service bureau, we take the stress and the frustration away,” Pam explains. “It’s our job to make sure everything is running smoothly when the business owners are going to sleep at night.”

She means this quite literally.

The analogy of her Gigabots as “her girls” is more than just cutesy anthropomorphizing: the time the printers take up in her life and the attention she gives them is somewhat akin to children. “It’s like having a baby in the house or a new puppy in the house: you have to just get up and check on these things,” she explains. “It’s just a little bit of reassurance when you wake up in the middle of the night and just take a look at it and say, ‘Yep, everything’s running good,’ and you go back to sleep.” For bigger jobs or ultra-time-sensitive projects, she and Tony will take turns babysitting the printers practically around the clock.

They’ve gotten much unsolicited advice on the topic of their basement as company headquarters, and Pam can agree that there are drawbacks. “But,” she says, “there are more pros than cons.” The ability to simply pop downstairs in the wee hours to check on a print – this is their advantage. “At 2 o’clock in the morning when the filament needs to be changed, it’s being changed.”

With this all-hours accessibility, she explains, they can quote clients ultra-competitive turnaround times on projects. There is no way to speed up a print beyond its inherent print time, of course, but their down-time between batches and jobs is slim to none. Says Pam, “We lose no time.”

Of course there are disadvantages to living with your work, she acknowledges. “It’s always there,” she explains. “They take maintenance. It just isn’t something that’s a walk through the park.”

For anyone toying with the idea of bringing a 3D printer home to start a business, she’s quick to jump to advice. “Try it,” she says. “If it doesn’t work out, you can always move it to another facility, but it’s something to consider.” But, she stresses, don’t underestimate the work this will entail. “It is time-consuming, and if you’re not willing to invest the time and the money into this, it will not succeed.”

Pam has more words of wisdom where this came from, and with over twenty years in the additive space – both with PolyJet and FFF printers – she’s a good person to give it.

She gives herself a dose of her own advice every day in the form of helpful reminders stuck to the side of each printer. They range from technical prompting – Clean gear after filament rethread – to attitude checks – Be patient.

“Be patient,” Pam says. “I cannot stress that enough.”

This mantra becomes all the more important when a deadline is rapidly approaching and she has a customer breathing down her neck. When something unexpected goes awry, calm amidst the chaos is what allows her to maintain a cool head as she works her way down the checklist of what could be causing the problem.

As far as other advice for people new to 3D printing, Pam stresses not skimping on quality, both of equipment and of materials. “Filament will make or break you,” she says. She understands it can be tempting to go with the budget option. Don’t, she says. “It will catch up with you in the end.” She found a filament she likes and has stuck with the manufacturer, maintaining a close relationship with John Hosbach of Village Plastics. “John knows his filament,” she says. “It’s unbelievable. Our prints look like spun silk when we get finished with them.” 

Pam has come to understand that 3D printing is never an exact science, and that with so many factors playing into print quality – from filament source to the weather that day – even experienced additive manufacturing veterans can wake up to a spaghetti bowl. Starting with a level playing field in the form of reliable equipment and materials rules out preventable problems that will save valuable sanity in the troubleshooting process. “That’s a great starting point, to have good equipment and good filament,” she stresses.

“But,” she goes on, “patience is by far the most important thing you need to have.”

The Lessons

“Oh, the printers will teach you lessons every day.”

The past twenty years of additive manufacturing have been a journey of learning for Pam. “You have to be teachable,” she says. “Once you realize that, then the sky’s the limit. But if you always feel that you know it all, then you’ll never grow, you’ll never advance.”

It helps, Pam says, that the 3D printing community is so supportive and eager to assist their peers. “With this particular community of individuals that we’ve met, everyone is very helpful,” she muses. “YouTube videos, directions – people are willing to talk and willing to help you, which is a huge asset. And when you have a support team like that, it makes you want to grow.”

The pace of the industry can sometimes be overwhelming, she says: technology changes at such a clip that it’s hard to stay at the forefront of it all. “But yet, at the same time, everyone’s been so helpful,” she says. “Like, ‘Hey, did you hear about this new material on the market?” Or, ‘What’s the temp on your extruder? What’s your speed?’ It’s an incredible community to work with.”

The payoff is reflected in the work they do. A 500+ hour print under their belt. NASA on their client list. Fluency in a wide lineup of materials, from flexible filament, to Nylons, to Teflon. “None of this was ever dreamt of when we bought the first printer,” Pam says.

It’s clear that the journey has held its fair share of ups and downs, but it seems that the right attitude is at the core of it all. “Additive will teach you patience,” she reiterates. “Additive will teach you persistence. Additive will keep you on your toes 24/7.”

She maintains a very even head about it all, and recognizes that things could change at any moment for her. “It’s terrifying and at the same time it’s exhilarating. When things are rolling, life is great.”

When I asked what advice she would give to a new 3D printer owner who was thinking about starting a business like hers, her response was quick.

“Make sure you have a lot of liquor in the facility.”

Learn more about Pamton 3D: https://pamton3d.com/

An Update: 3D Print Blobbing and How to Fix It

Maybe you’ve read our blog from several years back about improving a 3D print’s surface quality by reducing the triangle count of your STL file, or maybe you’ve just experienced some surface blobbing on a print and are looking for an explanation and a fix.

Well, you’ve come to the right place! This update blog will serve as both a complement to our original post, as well as a jumping off point for anyone experiencing issues described here.

Have you ever had the problem of little filament blobs dotting the surface – like in the picture below – ruin an otherwise great print?

Those blobs are due to a buffering issue. There is a speed at which the board feeds the printer information and a number of commands it holds in the queue. It’s like a restaurant putting out orders for people to pick up. There’s speed at which they make the orders, and only so many spots for orders waiting on pickup.

If the printer comes to a bunch of really quick moves, it clears out all the stored commands and has to pause a second to wait for more. That pause lets some plastic ooze out and create one of these blobs. Having fewer triangles equals fewer commands to make the same shape, so the average move is longer. This is one solution to the blobbing problem.

Another fix is to increase the buffer size (room for more pickup orders) or speed. We have been playing with buffer size since it is a setting in the firmware. The buffer speed depends on the capability of the board, so that would require a hardware upgrade to be faster.Lowering the mesh count on a model helps ensure that the printer can achieve its best performance for that print. You are modifying the part to match the capability of the printer. STL files are just a list of triangles that occupy a 3D space – curves are stored as a series of tangent triangular planes. Smaller triangles give a more accurate interpretation of the curve. So long as the facets are smaller than the printer can actually print, the result is a smooth curve. Technically you are degrading the mesh curvature. It’s the same as the transition from analog to digital. Analog is more information, but it overloads the system which makes digital better.

When we wrote the first article on this topic, we changed our firmware to have a large buffer for prints via SD card. Gigabot’s board can only support a certain buffer size, so that buffer space was taken from the USB. We recommend Gigabot users to print via SD because it has a larger buffer size and it also avoids other complications involved with keeping a computer connected to the printer. Recently we have been working on a touchscreen interface for Gigabot, which communicates over USB. We started to see print quality differences in SD card prints versus touchscreen prints in the form of globs on curved surfaces. Changing the buffer size for the USB is one of the changes that will roll out with the new touch screen.
 
Join the conversation on our forum if you want to continue this discussion with us!

Innovating in The Time of Corona(virus)

The exponential spread of the novel coronavirus across the globe led to overwhelming demand on supply chains and disruptions to traditional manufacturing and distribution systems. Because of societal lockdowns and stay-at-home orders, a dire need quickly arose for locally fabricated, specifically focused and creatively sourced solutions to equipment shortages and emergency supplies. At home and across the globe, designers and engineers quickly mobilized into online, open-source prototyping groups to solve the challenge of a lack of personal protective equipment (PPE), ventilators and medical device accessories. 3D printing and additive manufacturing was an obvious go-to, with the ability to rapidly prototype and iterate on the fly, teams could utilize 3D printers to supply healthcare providers with equipment now, as soon as there were designs to print. The intention and needs were obvious and clear – to aid humanity and fill the gaps in supply chains – however, organizing volunteers and streamlining the process to avoid duplicate efforts was a daunting task.

As a company with a wealth of R&D project experience and long used to working as a distributed team, re:3D put out the call that we would prototype – for free – any life-saving devices or PPE in order to expedite review by medical professionals. We are conscientious contributors to the open source design community for COVID-19 response. We take a First, Do No Harm approach to any design work we do for this effort, meaning that it needs to be designed with input from, and in partnership with, the individuals who will utilize any equipment we prototype. We will not create anything that gives a false sense of security, but is ineffective or harmful. Our medical providers on the front lines are in need, and we are honored to take on the challenge.

Face Shields

In two overlapping efforts, we prototyped a design for a 3D printed face shield with full visor coverage and an adjustable zip tie style latching mechanism. The inquiry started in Puerto Rico. Vicente Gascó, our friend and colleague from Tredé and Engine-4 shared he had a supply of 4000 clear plastic lenses for face shields, but no visor to which they would attach to the head. Armed with only the measurements of the lenses and aided by an idea from assembly guru and NASA technician Andrew Jica in Houston, Brian Duhaime, our mechanical engineer in Austin, and Alessandra Montano, our graphics designer in Puerto Rico, pumped out five different iterations of a face shield in only 48 hours.

Vicente and Luis Torres, co-founder of Engine-4, pulled our Puerto Rico Gigabot out of Parallel-18 and added it to the existing Gigabot at Engine-4. Gigabots in Austin and in Puerto Rico printed out iterations of the designs for testing.

In Houston at the same time, CTO Matthew Fiedler, mechanical engineer Helen Little and community liaison Charlotte Craff were meeting with doctors from a local hospital to discuss their needs for a face shield. Knowing that vetted, open source face shield designs were already available, the group reviewed designs by Prusa, Lazarus3D, Budmen and Professional Plastics. The Houston team 3D printed existing options for the doctors to test, but the designs didn’t meet all of the doctors’ needs:

  • Lightweight, fully closed top
  • Reducing the air gap between lens and chin
  • 180 degree lens coverage
  • Limit number of parts to reduce need to source materials in short supply

Knowing that supply chains were disrupted and very little raw materials were available in a timely manner, re:3D conferred with Professional Plastics and determined that plastic sheeting supplies were well behind schedule, but that there were excess pre-cut face shield lenses available. Again, re:3D opted to prototype to existing, local supplies, keeping stress off of traditional supply chains and getting creative with what was available.

Over the next week, Helen built on the work done for the Puerto Rico design, integrated the needs of the doctors and iterated ten different versions of the face shield while working from home and rarely getting to hold a print in her hands. The result is a single print, face shield with an adjustable latching mechanism. It’s designed for 180 degrees of protection and comfort without the addition of foam padding.  It has the approval of the hospital’s Infection Control and  is currently available at the National Institutes of Health 3D Print exchange for COVID-19 Response. https://3dprint.nih.gov/discover/3dpx-013504

Hands-Free Door Pulls

Eliminating unnecessary shared contact surfaces is imperative, especially in buildings where essential workers are operating to continue necessary services. Our team includes multiple military service members. One of our reservists was activated when she sent out a call back to our team to make some hands-free door pulls to use on the base. Aided by Matthew Fiedler, Mike Battaglia, our designer in Austin, and Brian Duhaime went to work prototyping hands-free door pulls for lever-style and bar-style door handles.

These designs were drafted before we had dimensions for either of the door styles, so had to be modeled in such a way to enable incremental dimensional adjustments while preserving the models’ shapes. During her free time, the service member sent feedback on the first versions via pictures and notes, and Brian and Mike iterated the changes remotely, melding organic shaped and attachment options into single print solutions.

The hands-free door pulls are now successfully in use on base, protecting our military personnel as they work to respond and aid COVID-19 efforts. These models are available for download here https://3dprint.nih.gov/discover/3dpx-013825 and here: https://3dprint.nih.gov/discover/3dpx-013822

From Intubation Box to Drape Stands

As a 3D printer manufacturer, we are understandably advocates of 3D printing use in manufacturing. However, we recognize that not all innovations require, or are best served by, an exclusively 3D printed solution. As we do much of our manufacturing in-house, including machining parts on our CNCs, we can apply rapid prototyping principals to traditional manufacturing methods. Take the example of an aerosol or intubation box:

We were contacted by an anesthesiologist based in Austin about modifying such a box, used to protect doctors and nurses from aerosols released when intubating a patient. The doctor’s main concerns were ability to clean and the need for a “helper” hole. This equipment needed a curved, clear surface rather than sharp corners where germs could hide. We offered to prototype using polycarbonate sheeting and an aluminum framework available in our machine shop.  In this case, the request for aid evolved before we produced a prototype. The anesthesiologist reported that the existing boxes were unwieldy and took up too much space, so instead requested a solution for supporting clear plastic drapes to achieve the same purpose and be easy to store. Matthew Fiedler proposed a combined 3d printed base and a bent aluminum frame for the project. Design work is ongoing and we will update this post as the prototype develops.

Are you a healthcare professional needing a COVID-19 related equipment solution? Please reach out to us at info@re3d.org to begin coordination. Should you wish to purchase any of our COVID-19 designs. They’re available in our online store: https://shop.re3d.org/collections/covid-19

Interested in supporting existing efforts to fight COVID-19? See below for how to help in Austin, Houston and Puerto Rico.

There is a huge maker community that has sprung to action to support the 3D printing of PPE here in Austin and the surrounding areas.  One of the largest efforts is being run by Masks for Docs (masksfordocs.com), who are actively soliciting donated face shield prints, assembling the shield, and distributing them to hospitals, health clinics, nursing homes, etc – all around the Austin area.  To help with this effort, re:3D will be collecting donated 3D printed face shields in drop-boxes at two locations, Brew & Brew and the Draught House Pub.
 
If you have a 3D printer at home or work & want to help out in the Austin area, you can access the Face Shield Design here.
 
Recommended Print Settings:
  • PETG is preferred, but PLA is completely acceptable if you don’t have PETG or are not able to print with it.
  • 3-4 solid top/bottom layers
  • .3mm layer height
  • 5 Perimeters (AKA Shells or walls)
  • 0% Infill
 
Drop off boxes can be found at:
 
Brew & Brew
500 San Marcos St #105, Austin, TX 78702
 
The Draught House
4112 Medical Pkwy, Austin, TX 78756
TXRX and the amazing maker-community continue to organize face shield collection around Houston.  We are donating 3D printed face shields as well as hosting a community donation box for makers in the Clear Lake area who are printing the face shields at home.  At our factory, the batches are consolidated and sent to TXRX for assembly and distribution to hospitals and first responders in the Houston area.  To date, over 1600 face shields have been donated from the Clear Lake area –  keep it up!
More information and the design file is available here.
 
The Clear Lake drop off box can be found at:
re:3D, Inc.
1100 Hercules
STE 220
Houston, TX 77058
The maker community, including a few Gigabots have done a fantastic job collaborating in San Juan & beyond. We are currently collecting requests for those in need of PPE and sharing opportunities to connect with Engine-4 and Trede’s efforts in Bayamon and additional efforts. If you live in Mayaguez and would like create face shields to be assembled with sheets that have been donated to Engine-4, a drop off box has been established. A UPRM student has also initiated a Slack channel to share other needs. Email info@re3d.org for access.
 
The Mayaguez drop off box can be found at:

Maker Chris’ house at:
76 Calle Santiago R Palmer E, Mayaguez PR 00680


If you live outside of these areas and/or are seeking ways to contribute, A Form to Volunteer is Available Here. We will be responding to inquiries this weekend and doing our best to facilitate introductions:)

Global Gigabot Community Rises to the Challenge of COVID-19

As we all face our new normal and adjust to the realities of life during a pandemic, our 3D printing friends and colleagues around the world have stepped up to provide much needed personal protective equipment, filling the supply gap for everyone on the front lines. This isn’t just for doctors and nurses, it’s also for the police, EMTs, grocers, gas station attendants, and every other essential worker who suit up to keep our societies’ services going during this crisis.

More close to home, we couldn’t be more honored to count many of these selfless volunteers as our customers. re:3D’s social mission to democratize manufacturing and 3D print with purpose tends to attract like minded individuals and businesses whose first instincts are to be the problem solvers for their communities.  Featured below are our friends’ efforts in their own words.

Engine-4, Tredé, Parallel18 & Daniel Varela

Bayamón, Puerto Rico

Tell us about the design you are printing.

After learning about a need for PPE, we started printing a derivative of the 3DVerkstan visor design for face shields that could accept pre-cut shields that had been donated. We chose that design because it was the fastest to print. It was nice to see along the way that it got NIH endorsement. Our expanding print farm of Gigabots & Prusa printers is located at Engine-4, and includes local Gigabots that Parallel 18, Daniel Varela, and Atlantic University (once it clears customs!) loaned to help bolster production.
Design Inspiration: https://3dverkstan.se/protective-visor/

PR Variant: Link to .stl file direct download

What material are you printing with?

We are currently printing with PLA.

Who are you printing this design for? 
We are donating face shields to health professionals across PR. So far we have donated 1400. We’re also helping a doctor with 3D printed splitters. Just today we got a tightly fitted design and are doing further testing.

This fabulous group of makers who combined forces can be found online:

@engine4cws @tredeprinting @p18startups

https://engine-4.com/

http://tredeprinting.com/

https://parallel18.com/

Bill Albertini

New York City, New York, USA

Tell us about the design you are printing.

When I heard about a potential shortfall in PPE supplies at New York area hospitals, my first reaction was to research mask/respirator models but soon realized they were not an ideal candidate for FDM printing. Face shields are also in short supply and there were a couple of designs that looked promising. I downloaded and tested several candidates before I found a design on March 26th by Swedish 3DVerkstan which they had just released in the wild, I soon I discovered that Weill Cornell and several other institutions had adopted this model because of its simplicity and ease of assembly. It consists of two components, a 3D printed head strap and a clear plastic shield which can be easily fabricated using letter size acetate sheet .005 or thicker and a standard 3 hole punch.

Download Site: https://www.youmagine.com/designs/protective-visor-by-3dverkstan
Design Site:https://3dverkstan.se/protective-visor/

What material are you printing with?
I am currently printing with PLA but I am going to switch over to PETG as soon as I can set up better ventilation. This is an old fashioned New York loft work/live situation.

Who are you printing this design for? 
Most of this first batch was donated to DIY Shield Project through connections with nycmakesppe.com, and they have been pretty much distributing to (public) hospitals with severe shortages like Elmhurst and Lincoln. I am also giving 50 kits directly to someone I know at Montefiore Hospital in the Bronx. I have also been in contact with Jenny Sabin who is running a site for Weill Cornell https://www.sabinlab.com/operation-ppe

Bill Albertini can be found online:

@bill_albertini

billalbertini.com

Efes Bronze | Serdar Erol

Yalova City, Turkey

Tell us about the design you are printing.
It is a simple face shield design that can save lives. The design came from 3BOYUTLUDESTEK.ORG platform. There are thousands of volunteers in this platform with 3D printers. “Sizi seviyoruz” is located on the shield and means that we love and thank you to all struggling with COVID-19.

What material are you printing with?
PLA

Who are you printing this design for?
All sanitarians, policemen, and some other officials that have to contact each other everyday.

Where can people sign up to assist with this effort?
WWW.3BOYUTLUDESTEK.ORG

Efes Bronze can be found online:

@efesbronze

Metabolic Foundation | Christie Mettes & Tony Sevold

Aruba

Tell us about the design you are printing.
We started working with the design from Prusa, which looked like it was carefully researched and tested and approved and it worked well, so we printed about 400 of those in total. We’ve recently moved on to the 3DVerkstan design, which takes half the time to print so it helps us increase our production. In addition to these, we’ve also designed a copy of some safety glasses they use at the hospital, which print even quicker and use less material. The different designs and files are linked on our wiki page here: http://wiki.brenchies.com/index.php?title=3D_printing_face_shields

What material are you printing with?
We’re printing mainly with PLA because that’s what we have, and it’s easy to work with. We’ve also used a bit of PETG and some ABS because that’s what we had, and it should work fine according to the Prusa and 3DVerkstan websites.

Who are you printing this design for?
We’re printing for the two main hospitals on the island, Horacio Oduber Hospital, and ImSan (Instituto Medico San Nicolas), as well as the department of health who are doing the testing (DVG, Directie Volksgezondheid), the psychiatric hospital organization (Respaldo), the union of family doctors and dentists, as well as individual health workers including nurses and family doctors who ask us specifically.

Where can people sign up to assist with this effort?
If you’re in Aruba, and have a 3D printer or can sew, you should sign up. Best way is to email us at lab@brenchies.com, or WhatsApp us at +297 630 2475

Metabolic Foundation can be found online:

https://www.facebook.com/brenchieslab/

https://www.instagram.com/brenchies/

Plodes® Studio | John Paul Plauché & Roya Plauché  

Baytown, TX, USA

Tell us about the design you are printing.
We are printing a head banding component of a protective face shield. It is based on a design by Prusa, and had been approved by the Czech Ministry of Health for use to help fill the void of PPE (Personal Protective Equipment). The version we are printing is a redesign by TXRX Labs and part of a volunteer effort that they had organized to help with our own local need for PPE during this worldwide COVID-19 pandemic. We are excited to see local additive manufacturing step up to a shared worldwide call, where intellectual property and design ego take a back seat to provide real time evolving, useful, and needed objects for humanity.

What material are you printing with?
We are printing with PLA from re:3D, always our first choice for on hand reliable material. We are printing 24×7 on our original (but upgraded a little) Gigabot #21! Each part is around 1hr and we are doing at least 6 units at a time.

Who are you printing this design for?
These prints are for our Houston area doctors, nurses, and staff on the front lines of the COVD-19 pandemic in hospitals and stations that are in need of PPE or anticipate a need in the coming days/weeks. Our parts are delivered to TXRX labs in Houston and are assembled with laser cut shields and elastic bands to complete the product and are distributed from there.

Where are you located? 
We are located in Baytown, TX in our home office. My wife (Roya Plauché) and I (John Plauché) make up plodes® studio. We are a Texas based multidisciplinary design firm that draws from a coalescence of art, product, and architectural design. Our products are varied, authentic, minimal, and distilled with rigorous process to a balanced purity. Currently our best sellers are fire pits, so check them out and make a backyard escape for yourself while we are in this ‘Great Stay’. Help flatten the curve and please stay home as much as possible! 

Where can people sign up to assist with this effort?
We could use local area volunteers to pickup parts from us and drop to TxRX labs when we get 50-100 units at a time. Please email info@plodes.com with subject “TXRX pickup”. And please everyone visit TXRx’s go fund me at https://www.gofundme.com/f/txrx-manufactures-protective-medical-equipment and give what you can!

plodes® studio can be found online:

http://www.plodes.com/shop

@plodesstudio

CM Welding & Machine | Corey Mays

Midland, TX, USA

Tell us about the design you are printing.
We were printing a prototype ventilator splitter designed by Texas Tech and UT Permian Basin to allow up to 4 patients to use one ventilator. The first run has been sent for testing and we are waiting to hear back on that part. In the meantime we started reaching out to local medical personnel and some of the rural areas to see what needs they might have. We found the biggest need was for face shields. We chose a simple open source design and have been printing these 24/7 to fill these needs.

What material are you printing with?
For the ventilator splitter I chose PETG material and we are printing the face shield headgear out of PLA.

Who are you printing this design for?
Any medical personnel in need of face shields. 

Where can people sign up to assist with this effort?
I encourage anyone with a 3D printer to contact your local medical personnel or local universities of schools to help fill immediate needs there. Also, go to www.matterhackers.com and sign up for the COVID-19 response team. They will send out requests and files.

What has it been like for you working on this project?
It’s been exciting to be able to work on this project. As a manufacturer and mechanical designer I’m a problem solver by nature so being able to have the capability to help has been really fun and exciting! The Gigabot has been absolutely rock solid through this project. The larger print bed allows us more freedom to run different part arrangements so that we do not have to have someone here 24/7 to watch the machine. With the face shield head gear, we start a run of 6 in the morning and that run is ready to be pulled off by 5 pm. We then start a run of 8 that is ready when we come back in the following morning. I don’t think it has been off in almost 2 weeks and still going strong!

CM Welding & Machine can be found online:

Facebook: CM Welding & Machine

@cmayswelding

Pamton 3D | Pamela Szmara

Youngstown, OH, USA

Tell us about the design you are printing.
The headband design is PRUSA stl file. It is an existing design.

What material are you printing with?
We are using PETG from Village Plastics in Barberton, Ohio.

Who are you printing this design for?
We have supplied masks to Hospice of NY, the Ravenna Fire Dept in Ohio, and doctors at the Cleveland Clinic. 

Pamton 3D can be found online:

http://www.pamton3d.com/

The Kinkaid School | Jeff Diedrich

Houston, TX, USA

Tell us about the design you are printing.
The design is from TX/RX, a non-profit makerspace here in Houston. My first prints were based on a single design where I could fit 9 on the bed. Then Patrick Ferrell @PBFerrell told me about a stacked design with 9 high which meant I could do 81 at a time. This was a 110 hour print.

What material are you printing with?
PLA

Who are you printing this design for?
These are being printed for TX/RX

What has working on this project been like for you?
I am fortunate to work at a school with a Gigabot, and our head of school, Dr. Ed Trusty, was more than happy to allow me to use the school’s equipment and material to give back to the community.

Jeff Diedrich can be found online:

@misterdiedrich

Qrint Studio | Qumar Mirza

Toronto, Canada

Tell us about the design you are printing.

 The designs we printed are our own design for non-medical grade face shields for local business and restaurants. Due to this reason, we made it so it could have a minimal cost.

What material are you printing with?
We printed with PETG.

Who are you printing this design for?
 A local community non-profit.

What has working on this project been like for you?
We started just to help the community, but we end up applying for a health certificate so we could produce medical grade face shields.

Qrint Studio can be found online:

https://www.facebook.com/qrinting/

@qrintstudio

Doug Mockett & Co | Paul de Leon

Manhattan Beach, CA, USA

Tell us about the design you are printing.
We started printing designs a friend of mine sent to me – all from Thingiverse. After printing for a few days, I realized our two Gigabots weren’t going to be able to catch up with the demand, so Carlos and I played with the settings and got the print time down to 28 mins per visor for open visors, 35 mins for closed top visors (some hospitals preferred closed visors) which still wasn’t enough. I saw a post by a company from another country which did in house casting. That was clever so I thought we should do the same. I contacted our local silicon and plastic supplier for molding instructions and to buy materials to make silicon molds. I designed a closed visor that could work with molding and casting. I printed a few versions using our Gigabot 3+  and used that print to create a silicon mold.

We are also printing ear savers (mask extenders). These seem to be quite popular.

What material are you printing with?
PLA

Who are you printing this design for?
Local hospitals and nursing homes:

  • Torrance Memorial Hospital, CEDARS SINAI & Providence Little Company of Mary (earsavers), Long Beach Memorial Rehab, and other local clinics.
  • Delano Hospital, VA Palo Alto and other smaller clinics in other states

What has working on this project been like for you?
It has been a privilege and an amazing team experience to be able to create something to help in this time of need. It means a lot to our team to be a part of this project and donate to healthcare providers.

Doug Mockett & Co can be found online:

@dougmockett

https://www.facebook.com/dougmockett/

https://www.youtube.com/user/dougmockett

https://twitter.com/dougmockett

https://www.pinterest.cl/dougmockett/

Compendium Federal Technology LLC | Stuart Langford

Lexington Park, MD, USA

Tell us about the design you are printing.
Originally, we were going to make frames and donate them to Makers Unite in Baltimore, MD. At the time, they were asking us to use the Prusa v.RC2 face shield design.  In the meantime our CEO was communicating with local first responders, and Medstar Saint Mary’s communicated that they were running low on face shields. We used the Prusa v.RC2 face shield, but we made some minor changes so they would print faster. The straps are our design. We tried several designs including the strapless, but we received the best feedback from the modified Prusa v.RC2.

What material are you printing with?
PLA for the frame. NinjaFlex TPU 85 for the straps. The clear screens are made from clear acetate or PVC sheets.

Who are you printing this design for?
Medstar Saint Mary’s Hospital, Charlotte Hall VA Clinic, several nursing homes and private practices.

What has working on this project been like for you?
It has been busy, but rewarding. I wasn’t the only person contributing. My CEO John OConnell did the leg work, and my coworker Cedrick La Marca assisted with the CAD designs and resin printing. In addition to the face shields, we also printed spare ventilator parts for Saint Mary’s Hospital. Everything was donated free of charge.

Our story was featured on WJLA-TV Washington DC ABC affiliate.

Compendium Federal Technology LLC can be found online:

https://www.facebook.com/compendiumfederaltechnology.llc/

Are you a re:3D Gigabot customer working on COVID-19 efforts? We’d be happy to add your work to this blog. Email us: info@re3d.org