Tobin Fanning-Hughes, a ninth grader from Port Washington and a member of the Boy Scouts of America Troop No. 7 has been using his own 3D printer to make face shields for healthcare workers on the frontlines fighting the coronavirus.
Hughes began printing the face shields in early April after realizing how desperately healthcare workers needed personal protection equipment (PPE) to protect themselves.
“Workers weren’t getting the proper or enough protection to be working safely and I knew I could make these,” Hughes said.
To make the face shields, Hughes downloaded a design file and converted the file to the printer’s code. He put the design file on an SD card, and then began the process of creating a face shield. Each shield is made out of transparency sheets, which create the clear part of the shield and is tied together with three rubber bands, which help to hold pieces together.
On April 11, Hughes delivered his first batch of face shields to Columbia-Presbyterian Hospital and has been printing them every day since. When he first began printing the shields, it took him approximately 3.5 hours to complete, but he has gradually been able to reduce the time down to less than two hours, making approximately eight each day.
“I realized that this virus and this whole situation is more serious than I thought,” Hughes said. “Helping out just a little bit is really appreciated by others. I wanted to help the medical people who are risking their own lives to help those who are sick with COVID-19.”
Hughes feels that being a Boy Scout has taught him the importance of helping others and has helped him to execute a project of this magnitude.
“Boy Scouts has been life changing,” Hughes said. “It has taught me a lot of things and it makes me feel more confident.”
Hughes’ scout master, Andy Johns helped him organize the project, putting him in contact with healthcare workers who were in need of PPE. Johns also put him in contact with other people who own 3D printers so that they too could make the face shields. Hughes wrote out a list of instructions and provided photos to people so they could learn to make the shields as well.
Since Hughes began printing the face shields, he has been able to donate more than 90 to various hospitals in the area including Columbia-Presbyterian Hospital, Maimonides Medical Center, New York Presbyterian-Queens and NYU Hospital.
Hughes is hopeful that hospitals will soon be able to get proper PPE and won’t need to rely on everyday people to create them. But until then, he plans to print as many as he can to donate to those on the frontlines.
Aside from the face shields, Hughes has also been able to make other items with his 3D printer including measuring cups, an iPad stand and a spade for the garden.
Hughes encourages people who own a 3D printer to get involved. Those who are interested in learning how to print the face shields can email 3DFaceShieldsbyTobin@gmail.com.