Michael Denault pulled up to Emerson Hospital in Concord early last month with a carload of face shields — essential personal protective equipment for health workers during the coronavirus pandemic.
Using 3-D printers and donated materials, Denault and other volunteers had manufactured enough shields in their home workshops to outfit the hospital staff who needed them.
Denault is owner of Maker’s Workshop, a makerspace based in Maynard. Normally, members meet Friday nights to craft, cut, and construct projects. Once the pandemic struck, the workshop put out a call for volunteers to help produce protective shields from the safety of their home workshops.
“We are extremely grateful to the Denault family and everyone in the community who donated PPE supplies to Emerson," Christine Schuster, president and CEO of Emerson Hospital, said in a statement. “The donations enabled us to be fully prepared to care for patients during the surge and beyond.”
Denault said they began the project after a member received 6,000-foot rolls of Petg, the material forming the shield, from a Harvard affiliate.
Petg is a material commonly used for manufacturing water bottles. The semi-rigid material protects the wearer from coughs, sneezes, even tiny droplets from speaking.
“We picked up the roll from him and took over the torch," said Denault, who has been making shields in his garage in Acton.
Denault gathered volunteers and their 3-D printers by publishing a call to action on the workshop’s Instagram and Facebook pages. They have raised nearly $14,000 through a GoFundMe page for materials and shipping costs.
So far, they have delivered 500 shields to Emerson and more than 6,000 total, including St. Vincent’s Hospital in Worcester, smaller clinics, and senior centers. They hope to potentially make up to 4,000 more.
“We’re going to continuously produce until there’s either no more need, no more material, or we run out of funding,” Denault said.