It has been encouraging to see manufacturers in the US and around the world, including Autometrix Inc, coming together to find ways to retool and manufacture PPE to meet the urgent need during the current COVID-19 pandemic.
We would like to share here the information and patterns we have collected while working to help our local community. Hopefully some of this information will be useful to others looking to contribute.
The big topic getting attention is masks. We’re all seeing news articles about it and pleas on social media from nursing staff and community members asking for donations of masks. Here’s the problem – the US and the various states have regulations on how these are made and to what standards. Hospital networks have their own regulations as well, compounding the complexity. So, if you want to provide masks, here’s what I recommend:
- Get in touch with your local hospitals and health care providers to see if they’re interested and willing to work with you.
- Consider other groups aside from front-line response people who could use masks and might not need to meet the same strict standards, but still help solve the problem
- Workers in nursing homes and other long term care providers
- Businesses involved in manufacturing that might normally need N95 masks who could consider using a lower level mask while a shortage exists, opening up the higher quality stuff for medical purposes
- Source the best kind of material you can – some resources are below, but remember that while cotton may filter well, it also absorbs moisture and can soon start breeding bacteria right near someone’s nose and mouth, so no one should wear it long before washing.
MEDICAL FACE SHIELDS
While not getting nearly as much attention, face shields may be an easier way for you to jump in and help. Face Shields protect the wearer from sneezes, coughs, etc. and provide an overall protection for their face, in addition to a mask. Because there’s no filtration involved, healthcare professionals may be more willing to accept these from non-standard sources – if they’re clear plastic, they’ll do the job.
Any thin, optically clear film will work for these and they’re easy to cut. You can cut the shield and attach foam and elastic, or you can find out if your local hospital network uses any sort of reusable plastic head strap, and then make replacement shields to snap on to that.
Note that if there’s any “soft goods” involved in the shield (foam or elastic) it will likely be viewed as a one-time use item, since it can absorb biohazards.
As far as material sourcing –
- A polyester film like Mylar is awesome because of how well it can clean. Should be available in very thin sheets on long rolls.
- While heavier, a lot of us are familiar with optically clear PVC Vinyls used for soft windows – Herculite, Achilles, and O’Sullivan Films all come to mind as manufacturers of this kind of material.
- IFAI’s COVID 19 Resource Center includes a lot of information
- MMI Textiles has shared their list of available inventory
- IFAI’s template for a letter to public officials asking for exemption from stay-at-home orders
- FEMA/DHS email ( email@example.com ) – this may be intended for large scale suppliers.
Here are various patterns for personal protective equipment (PPE) that Autometrix has put together in conjunction with Kaas Tailored, Tukatech, Cole-TAC, Austin’s Couch Potatoes and others. They are offered here for your use. Feel free to share.