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Pivoting to produce PPE for health care workers

Aaron Westbrook’s mission has always been to empower – giving people the tools they need to live better lives. It’s why in high school he started the nonprofit company Form5 Prosthetics to give people artificial limbs for free. So they can play a sport or an instrument, or do anything they can imagine.

Recently, as it became clear Ohio’s health care professionals and first responders were in need of personal protective equipment to treat those suffering from the coronavirus (COVID-19), Westbrook – an Ohio State sophomore marketing major in Fisher College of Business – and the team behind Form5 pivoted their work to empower Ohio’s health care providers.

They’re now using their 3D printers to create face shields that protect the eyes and airways of health care professionals and first responders who are dealing with a lack of personal protective equipment during the COVID-19 outbreak. Within the next six to eight weeks, Form5 plans to print at least 10,000 shields and donate them to health care facilities throughout the state.

“Our engineers are up until midnight each night sending me designs to print, doing all they can right now,” Westbrook said. “It shows the passion and dedication we all have to do good in the community and help where we can.”

Westbrook initially got the idea from an article about how those with 3D printers in Europe were making face shields. One of the engineers on Form5’s innovation technology committee, Lindsey Austin, then found open-source designs to print face shields. Dr. Raymond Wurapa, an orthopedic doctor and Form5 board member, provided feedback on prototypes.

Within days, Form5’s innovation and technology committee created its design – a 3D printed visor frame that clear report covers can easily attach to and work as the shield. The face shields are disposable and easily replaceable.

“It’s something we intentionally designed to be very versatile,” Westbrook said.

Form5 has shared its prototypes online and directly with health care facilities throughout central Ohio and has already received orders from some rural facilities.

Form5 also has used its communications, such as its Facebook group, to welcome other makers with 3D printers to use their design.

Typically, Form5 prints its prosthetics, which the organization is still doing, from recyclable materials. However, to deal with the immediate need for protective equipment, the organization is purchasing the material it needs. If you would like to donate to the cause, or are in need of face shields, you can contact Form 5 on its website or Facebook group.

Published: April 2, 2020

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