May 2020 Project Update
At the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis, our healthcare workers experienced an unprecedented shortage of personal protective equipment and makers around the world collaborated to temporarily alleviate the situation. Lowell Makes joined this movement to produce open source PPE, including 3D-printed masks and face shields.
We were amazed at how the community rallied around this effort. Thank you to everyone who supported us, collaborated with us, and ran printers for us. In a few weeks, we produced over 1,000 masks and several hundred face shields. After donating the first round of equipment to local hospitals, we slowed production to spend time collaborating with other mask projects and improve designs. Simultaneously, as we hoped would happen, we also began to see the private sector ramping up production of FDA/NIOSH approved PPE and N95 masks. This was always the goal, and we saw our role as a temporary one – to meet a need until traditional manufacturing channels could catch up to the surge. Since that spike in April, we have not experienced demand for open-source PPE and have ended this project.
March 31, 2020 Project Update
First, thank you. We are so grateful for all the support we’ve received in the form of printed mask components, donated supplies/funding, and constructive brainstorming. Hundreds of you have helped Lowell Makes launch this effort and gather over 800 3D-printed masks for our local healthcare workers and first-responders, who are the real heroes.
Second, we could never have imagined how quickly this project would spread. The maker community is immensely generous, and we are prouder than ever to be a part of it. Lowell Makes is entirely volunteer-run and we’ve been working hard to respond to each one of you, but we apologize if anyone was missed.
Finally, we have an update on our project. Our masks have been tested at several local hospitals and performed well. Tomorrow (April 1st), a hospital will pick up a few hundred masks, and we’ll continue distributing the rest to local facilities.
We’ve advised makers outside of Lowell to follow our approach to distribution so far: work with each local hospital for testing and validation of any open-source PPE. This strategy has helped us get very focused feedback and develop relationships, but we recognize that this model doesn’t scale to address the widespread and long-term needs of the healthcare system.
Over the past few weeks, we’ve been working with other maker groups to incorporate feedback into our design. We’ve also been closely following the research of teams across the country who are engaging in similar efforts. Some designs are on track to seek federal approval, which would reduce the need to go through each individual hospital’s validation process.
Since the open-source PPE movement is evolving rapidly, we want to be ready to pivot quickly when a new design comes to the fore. On the assembly front, we have plenty of mask shells to keep us busy, so we are asking our volunteer printers to do the following:
- Bring any masks you have printed to us. See our FAQs below for drop-off information. These will be distributed to local facilities.
- Don’t start any new prints. We want to conserve our filament and be ready to start printing when the next design is selected.
We are so grateful for everyone who has joined and supported us during this project. We will be in touch when it’s time to start your printers.
Stay home, stay safe, and keep making cool stuff.
Resources for Makers:
- Current COVID-19 Makers Responses
- Open Source COVID19 Medical Supplies: Our Intent, Needs, and Your Role
- Open Source COVID19 Medical Supplies Facebook Group
Thank You to the many individual 3D-printers who have dropped off bags of masks, the new and old friends who have sent us supplies and funding, the makerspaces who have shared their ideas and resources, the hospitals who have collaborated with us, the local legislators who have supported us, and the corporate donors who have helped ensure we are equipped to keep making, including:
Our masks are not approved by the FDA or NIOSH or any other state or federal regulatory body. Our masks should not be considered a replacement for an N95 mask. Lowell Makes is taking great care to collaborate with healthcare professionals and other makers to develop these items; however these items have not been tested or approved for medical use. Lowell Makes makes no guarantees that these masks will prevent transmission of COVID-19. If you accept a mask from Lowell Makes or use any of the information on this page to create Personal Protective Equipment, you agree to the terms of the Lowell Makes PPE Waiver.
FAQs [LAST UPDATED APRIL 2020]
Please read our FAQs before contacting Lowell Makes directly.
What is Lowell Makes making?
Please see the individual pages for 3D-printed masks and face shields. Lowell Makes will provide all non-3D printed components, but we are not providing any filters with our masks. The organization receiving masks is responsible for determining and sourcing their own filter material.. For our preliminary filter research, see our page for 3D-printed masks.
Is your 3D printed mask FDA or NIOSH approved?
Our masks are not approved by the FDA or NIOSH or any other state or federal regulatory body. Our masks should not be considered a replacement for an N95 mask.
Lowell Makes is taking great care to collaborate with healthcare professionals and other makers to develop these items; however these items have not been tested or approved for medical use. Lowell Makes makes no guarantees that these masks will prevent transmission of COVID-19. If you accept a mask from Lowell Makes or use any of the information on this page to create Personal Protective Equipment, you agree to the terms of the Lowell Makes PPE Waiver.
Please continue to adhere to current CDC guidelines regarding COVID-19. Please see updated FDA Guidance on 3D-printed PPE HERE.
Can I buy PPE?
Lowell Makes is not selling PPE and will not distribute on an individual basis. We are working directly with local healthcare facilities to donate masks as available.
Are you still accepting donations of 3D printed mask components?
We are not accepting additional prints of the original mask design. Please see our March 31 project update for details.
Should I 3D-print shield parts?
We are selecting which NIH-approved shield we want to make and that our hospital partners will accept. We’ll put out a call when we have selected a model.
How can I get my 3D printed components to you?
Please email [email protected] to arrange for a volunteer to meet you at Lowell Makes. When you have a confirmed time, come to 115 Merrimack St. and ring the doorbell. We will do a contact-free hand-off and sanitize your masks before we handle them.
If you are not in the Lowell area, please coordinate as much as possible with your local healthcare facilities. This is a grassroots effort to help communities fill their own needs.
FOR HEALTHCARE WORKERS
How can I get PPE?
THANK YOU for your important work. We are not able to hand out masks on an individual basis, but can try to work with your facility’s administration to seek approval for us to donate masks. Please have your facility’s leadership email [email protected].
How can I donate to this effort?
We will accept donations to offset the cost of purchasing supplies and running our operation. On our online donation form, check the box to designate your donation to a specific fund, then select COVID-19 Response.
We are also accepting donations of supplies. Please email [email protected] to arrange donation. Thanks to all who have donated so far; we do have enough hot glue sticks at this time. We currently need:
- Items from our Amazon Wish List
- 1.75 mm PLA and PETG filament – NO OTHER TYPES
- 1/4″ wide elastic bands
- polycarbonate sheets around 1/4″ inch thick (see shields page)