3D-printing face shields for critical medical workers

feature3D-printing face shields for critical medical workers

Doctors, nurses and medical professional are protecting all of us. In some areas, they need support to protect themselves because many hospitals are faced with shortages of personal protection equipment.

For Josh Gautreau, Chevron land team lead in the Texas Delaware Basin, this need hit home. 

“My sister is an OB-GYN at St. Luke’s in Sugar Land, Texas. She called me in mid-March and asked if I had ever done 3D printing or if I could figure it out. She was facing a shortage of PPE at the hospital as they were trying to preserve as much PPE for the ICU doctors and nurses while treating their first patients with COVID-19. I had not tried 3D printing yet, but I ordered two of the printers that night and started figuring out how to make the shields.”

The first step was learning how to put together and use a 3D printer. 

“There are a lot of variables you can change with the printer software, and every incorrect print can be the result of multiple root causes. This has been the toughest barrier to entry for people that have joined our effort, as it really involves a lot of patience and troubleshooting to get things fine-tuned.”

The next step was finding a viable face shield model and creating it. Josh tried multiple versions that he printed and sent to his sister for testing. He finally settled on a model that was high quality and could be made in half the time as other models, allowing him to provide more face shields to hospitals in need. 

Then Josh worked to get other people with 3D printers in the Houston area connected and working together to make PPE items. Within a few days people found their way to the Houston Helpers Taking on COVID-19 Facebook Group and even coordinated nightly calls to discuss individual’s challenges about finding filament or technical problems they were having with their machines.

Although a large PPE production company was supplying to the major hospitals in Houston, there were still a lot of requests from regional hospitals and clinics that needed more PPE, so the group focused the single mission of supporting outlying hospitals in need.

Western Australia health care icon

To date, the group has delivered more than 1,000 face shields to Houston-area medical facilities.

“We’re still getting requests from locations, so we’ll keep printing and delivering face shields and masks until the requests all die down.”

Josh Gautreau

Chevron Land Team Lead in the Texas Delaware Basin

chevron’s response to COVID-19

Published: May 2020