2021 Entrepreneurial Awards

Business, Community Step Up to Fill PPE Gap with 3D Printers

As the new coronavirus made its way into Michigan, health care professionals became gravely concerned about the supply of personal protec…

As the new coronavirus made its way into Michigan, health care professionals became gravely concerned about the supply of personal protective equipment. But it wasn’t a surprise when local businesses and community members stepped up to fill the gap. What was surprising, was the way they stepped up—through the use of 3D printers.

Melissa Rabideau, president and CEO of tinkrLAB in Meridian Township, announced a collaboration with Dow Corp. of Midland. The partnership resulted in the production and delivery of face masks that were created with 3D printers and then sent to hospitals across Michigan.

Area schools also stepped up, with Michigan State University leading the way by using 3D printers to make face shields. K-12 schools participated, too, including East Lansing Public Schools, the Lansing School District, Holt Public Schools and others.

“Within days of learning that we would not be returning to school to finish the 2019-20 school year, several teachers and I picked up eleven 3D printers from our schools and started printing face-shield frames in our homes,” said Holt Superintendent David G. Hornak. “Our effort is driven by the desire to save lives and support our local health care heroes. We will continue to print frames until there is no longer a need.”

Sparrow Foundation Vice President Michelle Reynart said she was profoundly impressed with the community’s response.

“The innovation, creativity and kindness that our community has shown during this challenge—from 3D printed N95 masks and creatively manufactured face shields to homemade masks and so much more—has been absolutely amazing,” she said. “People have stepped up to help in remarkable ways. We’re grateful to be part of a region that genuinely cares about one another.”

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