I'm Michael Zeng. A lot of what I do is based on a passion for robotics—I'm the co-captain of a world class FTC team, which means I have good skills in CAD and design, mechanical engineering, 3D printing, and programming, and I also make other sorts of robots in my free time. When Covid-19 hit, it was initially with my robotics team that we began simply 3D printing and assembling as many face shields as we could and distributing them to mostly local hospitals. As one of the distribution managers, I realized what a headache it was to be a central distribution center—handling all of the requests and all of the shipments, and during this time I came up with the idea of Print For The Cure.
I knew tons of people with 3D printers, capable of producing PPE, but who weren't doing anything yet to help in the fight against Covid-19. Yet I knew there was so much demand for PPE. The idea of Print For The Cure (https://printforthecure.com) is a web-platform to mobilize all of these makers and 3D printers, and connect them directly with essential workers in need of PPE.
I really liked this idea and got started immediately. In 3 weeks, with a couple partners, we released the alpha version of the website, and began to promote on social media. Over a month later, we've accumulated nearly 1000 requests for PPE from all around the nation, many from medical staff who have stories to tell of their work directly with Covid-19 patients. Our community of makers has also been working hard in fulfilling this demand, having donated 9800 pieces of PPE so far. What I think is the take-away is that you ought to help in the way which you want to help; as a roboticist, programming a website while 3D printing face-shields made the process enjoyable, and that was certainly key to our success.
As a final word, if you have a 3D printer, please join the movement! Hundreds of essential workers are in need, and you, have the power to help.