As hospitals all over the world face supply shortages due to the coronavirus pandemic, a West Virginia engineer is doing his best to help.
Over the course of the last few weeks, Jeff Smith has produced hundreds of protective shields using 3D printing and is donating them to frontline workers in need.
“These health care workers, these frontline people, they don’t have the equipment they need. They’re desperate for anything to cover their face and protect them,” he told PEOPLE. “So I thought one day, ‘I can do that. I can make a shield that works.'”
Smith found a new use for his 3D printer when he began making shields with a large plastic covering to protect the exposed faces of health care workers.
“[The shields] protect them from splashes or airborne items that would attach to the shield instead of attaching to their face and thus transmitting any kind of bacterial diseases,” he explained.
Smith said he has been limited on materials, but he hasn’t let that discourage him from making a product that can help those risking their lives on the frontline. “You’ve gotta work with what you’ve got,” he added.
Smith was pleasantly surprised with the result despite his limited materials noting that he “didn’t expect to make a couple hundred of these.”
He was also moved by the response from the people who benefitted from his donation.
“I was shocked that all these people didn’t have this equipment and the fact that I could, with what I’ve got around my house, put this together and protect someone," he revealed.
Smith is encouraging anyone who wants to help out to do so even if they don't have 3D-printing capabilities.
“Don’t wait! The longer you wait to get involved, the more behind the curve we’re going to be,” he said adding, "everybody can help in their own way and what they can contribute.”
“We need that now in our country, we need that in our local communities,” he adds. “People stepping up and helping where they can.”