Jessica Harned, supervisor of advanced resort technology in the parks technology department at Universal Orlando Resort, sent a text to her boss on March 28th that said, “What do you think of us 3D printing face-shields to donate to our local medical facilities?”
Since then, Universal Orlando Team Members have donated over 1,300 face-shield bands to healthcare workers in Central Florida.
For weeks leading up to that initial text, Jessica had seen posts in her social media newsfeed about different grassroot efforts of those responding to COVID-19 by putting their 3D printer to work.
“I was seeing a couple things around the makerspace of people helping out and I just thought ‘I could do that,’” Jessica explains. “‘I’m home and I have a printer and I can maybe grab two more from the office, and try to print some of these masks.’”
Jessica set out to see what all would be needed to pull this off. She found a website with an open source design for the headband, did a few test prints, experimented with different shielding options, and eventually contacted Scott Bond, the senior director of the innovation lab for the AdventHealth Nicholson Center.
“The biggest way that COVID-19 is spread is through droplets,” Scott says. “In order to protect our workforce, our clinical teams — and even non-clinical teams, we have people that are screening at the front doors — they need protection. While the N95 masks are extremely vital and important, they don’t protect the eyes or fully seal the nose. So if a patient coughs or sneezes, we need these shields to protect the entire face.”
Once Jessica was able to get in touch with Scott and realize the test prints she was doing matched the needs of AdventHealth, things started moving fast. And for good reason, the number of needed masks that Scott mentioned to Jessica in that initial conversation was 20,000. At that point, Jessica and her three 3D printers could produce about 40 headbands a day if they were printing continuously.
“The thing with printers is, it all sounds really exciting, but it’s probably marginally more exciting than watching paint dry,” Jessica says. “They’re very slow.”
For anyone who isn’t an expert on the technological feat that is 3D printing (me, 100% me), Jessica broke it down for me as such.
“Typical extrusion 3D printers are taking a thread of plastic filament, heating it up, and laying it out on the print surface one layer at a time. If you think of a 3-dimensional grid with an X, Y, and Z axis, the printer is reading a series of X,Y,Z coordinates as it prints an object layer by layer.”
Still with us? At Universal these 3D printers are normally used in a variety of ways from prototyping models to making small components like Volcano Bay’s Tapu Tapu wristbands.
“Anything that you need that is plastic, I can probably make,” Jessica says.
For now, that need is 20,000 face-shields. And while Jessica’s 40-a-day contribution of 3D printed headbands would have made a dent, she got to work recruiting.
“This is where it goes way beyond me,” she says. “I just started the ball rolling. Before any of this, I had already formed this unofficial 3D printing co-op with colleagues who I knew were 3D printing on property. We have people from parks technology, creative, entertainment tech, the creative prop and modeling shop, and merchandise…we’ve got people from all over our parks who are motivated together around this common goal.”
…we’ve got people from all over our parks who are motivated together around this common goal.
With all of these different Team Members hard at work printing, the dent being made in that 20,000 number is growing every day. Jessica has been overseeing social-distance pickups of everyone’s contribution and managing the quality-control and cleaning portion of the operation.
“I also have been taking photos once I’ve got all the shields gathered,” she says. “I line them up to count them and there was one time when it clicked. I had them all together and I was like ‘I have 300 something masks here stacked up on my table and that means 300 something doctors, nurses, and EMTs will be protected.’ That’s been, I think the biggest — you know — woah for me. It’s nice to know there’s a need and we’re helping to at least meet part of it.”
Once Jessica drops off the 3D printed headbands, Scott’s team at AdventHealth assembles all the parts that make up the whole and delivers the completed face-shields to campuses throughout Central Florida. With the help of Universal Orlando and other partners throughout the city, 1,500 total face-shields have been contributed as of April 15.
“I think all of us are feeling how personally rewarding it is to be a part of this initiative,” Scott says. “But then to see the community that we live in and the response so many have had to step up in a time of need. I mean you’ve got Universal providing parts to clinical teams. That’s not something they typically do, but everybody wants to pitch in and help. That 20,000 number is significant, so the faster we get there the better.”
If you are interested in what you can do to pitch in and help to get vital personal prevention equipment to healthcare workers, please check out this resource for AdventHealth or this resource for nationwide options.
Universal Orlando and the UO Foundation continue to seek opportunities to support our community and connect with our non-profit partners to assist with their most urgent needs. After donating truckloads of food to Second Harvest Food Bank in March, the UO Foundation has made significant grants to organizations who are providing direct services in support of COVID-19 relief efforts, like Second Harvest Food Bank, United Way, Community Hope Center, Shepherd’s Hope and many more. In addition, UO recently donated thousands of ponchos to the City of Orlando, Orange County, Osceola County and Seminole County fire departments as critical PPE for their first responders.