Another Week, Another 2,199 PPE

It’s been quite a week! It was just seven days ago when we said We are almost ready to make a lot of face shields! because Compumold was able to get our injection mold done in less than a week and do it at a reduced cost for our efforts. Thanks again to the crew at Compumold!

Once the mold was done it went to Netzer Plastics in Medford where they were able to start injection molding immediately. Within a day we had 1,700 injection molded face shield frames.

But that was just a start! Netzer Plastics injection molded all week, we kept sending people to pick up gaylords full of frames, and we’ve now got 17,000 injection molded 3DVerkstan face shield frames at Milwaukee Makerspace. (Erik who designed it even took notice.)

17,000 is a large number. That’s a lot of frames! But wait… we’ve got more numbers…

Our GoFundMe campaign PPE for Milwaukee is at $18,797 as of this post. Which is good, because we spent a lot of money on the injection mold, and a lot of money on plastic. Milwaukee Makerspace is an all-volunteer non-profit organization, so no funds to go pay anyone, everything is going towards materials, and any needed tooling. I don’t have a number for volunteer hours, but it’s easily into the hundreds…

There’s one more number… 2,199. That’s the number of face shields we’ve delivered this week. We’ve worked through about half of the requests that have come in through the request form, and looking at the requests we still need to fulfill, a lot of them are for 100 and 200. Hopefully we’ll surpass our 2,199 delivery number by next week’s total.

Finally, beyond all these numbers, and talk about plastic, and other things… the reason we are doing all this is for the people. Medical workers in need of protection. Here are a few of the recipients of our efforts.

Want to help?

Injection molded frames have arrived!

Jon Hughett arrives at Milwaukee Makerspace Sunday night with over a thousand molded frames from Netzer Plastics in Medford.

Ten thousand. Ten thousand frames in three days.


Holy smoke, you guys. 

We are going to be able to help so many people. 

This is all moving so fast. 

On Wednesday, the mold was ready. The people at Compumold in Phillips worked late every day and over Easter/Passover weekend to finish the mold in less than half the time it usually takes to make one. They understood that our mission is to save lives and they wanted to be part of it.

On Wednesday, Jeff Netzer at Netzer Plastics in Medford drove to Phillips to get the mold and made some samples.

On Thursday, Markus Schneider drove to Medford to look at the samples. 

They were good.

Jeff started cranking out the frames. At the rate of 2,750 a day.

Frames come off the conveyor at Netzer Plastics.

On Friday, Markus drove to Medford again and picked up a box of frames.

Our first batch of molded frames. They don’t have to be rinsed or washed in an alcohol bath, which speeds the process dramatically.

Jeff kept cranking them out.

On Sunday, Jon drove to Medford to pick up half a Gaylord of frames. (That’s all that could fit into his van.)

Markus retrieves the box of frames from Jon’s van on Sunday night.

And today – Monday – there are more frames waiting.

Jeff says he will keep making frames as long as he has the plastic.

And we will keep helping medical workers with shields as long as we can.

We are almost ready to make a lot of face shields!

The employees at Compumold worked through the weekend and some people stayed late to make sure they completed the mold as soon as possible. They delivered it to us more than a week ahead of schedule. This is a steel mold, which is more complicated to make than an aluminum one, so this turnaround has been extremely fast.

Our mold is ready!

The mold for injection molding of the frames for the face shields is ready.

Why does this matter, you ask?

Because with injection molding, we are going to be able put a lot more shields onto the faces of our medical workers in the Milwaukee area as they fight coronavirus. We are going to be able to save more lives.

We have been cutting the frames one by one on Tom Gondek’s CNC router, which is not a bad way to do things, but it’s slow. And each one of these frames has to be washed two times, once in water, once in alcohol. By hand. Which is also slow.

Frames after the initial washing at Tom’s shop.

As of April 15, we have requests for almost 4,000 face shields in the queue.

We can produce about 200-500 frames per day with the CNC router.

But with our new process – with injection molding – we will be able to quadruple production, making up to 2,000 frames per day.

And the frames made by injection molding do not need to be cleaned even once, so the overall process will be a lot faster.

I spent yesterday afternoon with Alden and Chris cleaning frames. It’s a tedious, slow process.

You dip the frames, two at a time, into a bath of alcohol water. (Which, BTW, makes your hands really cold.)

You let them sit on one side for five seconds, then you turn them and let them sit on the other side for five seconds.

Then you lift them out, let them drain, carry them to a drying rack (of which we have limited capacity), and hang them. They have to be completely dry for packaging.

Chris is cleaning frames. But this is not an efficient process.

This is not the best way to ship a lot of shields. Not when you have a backlog of 4,000.

Jeff, our injection molder, has already picked up the mold in Phillips and taken it back to his machines in Medford. He will have samples for us today.

Stay tuned!

Shields and Masks – Week One(ish)

We’ve got a progress report on our MMS Face Shield project. We started cutting frames for face shield about a week ago in an effort to fill the gap in the supply of PPE going to hospitals and health care clinics in the Milwaukee area. Our total as of Friday was about 2,000 frames for face shields cut on the CNC routers we have access to at ABC Woodworking.

We’re cutting more each day, and plan to add an additional two spindles to the gantry of the primary CNC router so it can cut three at one time. Meanwhile our friends at KAPCO Metal Stamping are able to stamp out 20,000 of the clear front shield parts to go with the frames.

Our GoFundMe campaign has raised over $12,000 so far, and we should be doing injection molding of the frames in less than two weeks. That will do two things: dramatically speed up the process of creating face shields, and reduce the cost of material per shield. (We are estimating close to 1/10 the cost of plastic used in the injection molded version.) With the ability to increase volume, we hope to expand beyond front line medical workers if their needs are met, and examine providing face shields to essential workers as well and investigate reaching outside the Milwaukee area. (We’ve already gotten requests from friends in other states as well.)

Now, if the face shield market gets completely saturated and we don’t need as many (which is a good thing!) we’ll be looking at what else we can do. Speaking of diversifying, we’ve also got a group of members who are sewing masks. Dan and Hapto put together 130 mask kits to distribute to members (in a non-contact fashion) and over 80 masks have been produced so far. There’s a lot of great sewn mask making efforts in our area, but it’s great to see our members jumping in as well.

One last update: Much of what we are doing started in the Open Source COVID19 Medical Supplies group, and while we haven’t been as active as we’ve wanted to (due to making face shields) there is now a local effort, the Open Source COVID19 Medical Supplies – Milwaukee group which a few of our members are involved in. Hopefully they’ll be able to steer us towards the best practices and efforts of the larger group. (And if you can help, please join in!)

We’ll do our best to keep you up to date with progress on this project as we move forward. As we’ve said among the group, we can’t wait to put ourselves out of the face shield making business, but as long as there’s a need to keep people safe that isn’t being fulfilled, we’ll keep doing it.

Want to help?

First Shields are Out!

We’ve delivered face shields! Medical professionals are now using these in the field, and we’re happy to see this photo they sent us.

We’re working on ways to speed up production, still exploring new partners to help out, and doing our best to keep our spirits high… and this helps a lot.

Want to help?