07 Apr 2020

When Omar Badar learned his hobbyist friends were 3D-printing face shields for healthcare workers on the front lines of COVID-19, it sparked an idea.

“Desperate times call for desperate measures,” said Omar, who is an assembly engineering manager for our company in Malaysia. “I’m glad we get to leverage our resources to help.”

Omar researched 3D-printed face shield designs online, began initial programming work and put together a proposal for production at our manufacturing site in Kuala Lumpur. His design for faster, easier assembly cut printing time in half. Three days later, he had the first prototype.

“It was important to come up with a more efficient design for production,” Omar said. “We’re now printing about 20 face shields per day and will deliver them weekly to public healthcare providers.”

Omar and the team at TI Malaysia are part of a growing movement worldwide to utilize 3D printing for medical gear and supplies – including masks, face shields and testing swabs – amid growing shortages as the COVID-19 pandemic strains global supply.

In addition, TI has committed $250,000 for Malaysia and $250,000 for the Philippines to support the fight against COVID-19 and the devastating effects it has had on local communities.

“While our nation is on lockdown, we come to the site every day to make these masks,” he said.

Seeing our community work together has been very uplifting during all this tragedy.

- Doni Dorak, former TIer

Uplifted during tragedy

Like Omar, 12-year-old Donald Dorak is a natural problem-solver.

After all, both his parents are engineers – they met while working on TI DLP® Technology 20 years ago. So when he came across the idea of 3D-printing masks while searching “hack COVID” on the internet, he felt compelled to become part of the solution.

“We had a 3D printer sitting in our house that we planned to donate to Donald’s school,” said his mom, Doni Dorak, a former TIer. “It was supposed to be installed over his spring break. I showed Donald the online training for setting up the design, and he ran with it.”

Doni contacted the organization that shared the mask design online – Make the Masks, founded by two doctors who tested the design for safety – and quickly became the Texas campaign coordinator. The organization refers volunteers to Doni and helps her distribute the masks.

Doni reached out to neighbors about the effort, and before she knew it, 11 more 3D printers in their North Texas community were churning out five masks per day. And the whole Dorak family has gotten involved – her eldest son, Daniel, created a website to coordinate volunteers and field requests. Mark Dorak, Doni’s husband and a customer quality engineer for DLP Products, assembles and sands down each mask before it’s distributed.

“We’ve got a good production line going,” Doni said. “I’m proud that this started with a child who cared, and then we reached out to our neighbors and worked together as a family to make a positive difference.”

Daniel, Mark, Doni and Donald Dorak are 3D-printing face masks from their home in North Texas.

The organization has distributed masks to elderly neighbors, nurses, doctors, firefighters and others. They sent 10 masks to New York with a local medical volunteer.  She’s connecting with groups like North Texas Mask Makers that help bridge the gap between volunteers and health care organizations in need, and is working with a local healthcare organization to get masks approved for clinical use.

“What moved me the most was seeing hospital workers in tears,” Doni said. “This has been so overwhelming, and you feel so helpless. Seeing our community work together has been very uplifting during all this tragedy.”

Innovating through challenging times

Owners of 3D printers – engineers, hobbyists, DIYers and others – have a natural drive to find new solutions to problems during a crisis, said James Lobsenz, director of marketing for SprintRay, Inc.

But SprintRay also found that its customers – dental professionals using 3D printers with TI DLP Technology – wanted to help. So the company hosted a webinar about how to use their printers to make personal protective equipment.

TI DLP Technology will produce four-to-seven times more throughput than other technology. With the level of shortage we think we’re seeing, speed is going to be a lot more important.”

- James Lobsenz, marketing director, SprintRay, Inc.

“Our core customer base is focused on healthcare, so it seems like a natural opportunity to leverage their clinical knowledge and our technology to help out in a time like this,” James said. “While these masks are not intended to replace N95 respirator masks, we hope we can offset the demand for those masks in the general population and preserve the supply of N95 masks for front-line caregivers.”

The company may also use their 3D printers to create COVID-19 testing swabs to address shortages as demand skyrockets. The printers’ TI DLP Technology gives production time an edge, creating 300 swabs in five hours compared to 24 hours on a similar-sized machine that uses laser-galvo technology.

“TI DLP Technology will produce four-to-seven times more throughput than other technology,” James said. “With the level of shortage we think we’re seeing, speed is going to be a lot more important.”

Trevor Dowd, product marketing engineer for TI DLP Pico™ Light Control, said he’s been impressed with SprintRay’s creative use of 3D printers to help medical professionals and the general public in need of protective masks and testing swabs.

“I think everyone at TI is inspired by the innovative ways our technology is being used to help during these challenging times,” he said.