They have already made and delivered nearly 8,000 face shields to health care workers in the Chicago area — for free.
Now, they want to make it easy for groups around the country to replicate their success, and they’ve created a website with everything you need to start a socially distant face shield factory.
It all began on March 25, when retired Oak Park resident Rob Parks saw a story on “Chicago Tonight” about a mother and son making face shields for health care workers using a 3D printer. Parks tried it out on the printer in his basement and showed it to his neighbor, Lisette Verhagen Metman, an ICU nurse, who had expressed concern about supplies of personal protective equipment. When she showed the shield to her bosses, “the intensivist and the manager said immediately ‘order 72!’” Metman said. “Basically all the nurses and the intensivists and the respiratory therapists would use them.”
“That threw me into a bit of a panic,” Parks said with a smile, “because it took me three hours to print that first one.”
Parks put out a call on an Oak Park email list, asking for anyone with a 3D printer to help out. “Inside of a day I had 20 people signed up to print,” he said. He dubbed his eager recruits the “Noble Army.” After they completed that first order they easily found other institutions that needed face shields. Soon there were 40 people cranking out more than 200 face shield frames a day.
“So obviously, there is a hidden but very powerful force in the community that was like waiting to be tapped. All these people are so generous and they are so dedicated and they really want to help they want to find a way to help,” Parks said.
Parks, and his wife Susan Parks, both have business backgrounds and they created the necessary systems to handle the volume.
“I will be glad when what we do is not necessary anymore,” said Susan Parks, “because that means that people will not need this type of protection. But while it is there we will fill the need.”
And as long as the need exists, they hope others will use what they have learned and follow in their footsteps.
Note: This story originally aired on “Chicago Tonight” on May 21, 2020.