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Milwaukee Makerspace is making face shields and donating them to medical workers. (PHOTO: Milwaukee Makerspace)

MKE Makerspace volunteers create free face shields for medical workers

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The nonprofit Milwaukee Makerspace recently launched a project get critical personal protection equipment (PPE) to medical professionals, hospitals and clinics at no cost.

The Makerspace, 2555 S. Lenox St., in Bay View, has been making and donating face shields, delivering about 2,500 of them so far and making another 20,000 parts to be able to do more.

"Some of us saw what other makerspaces and people in the maker community around the world were doing, and wanted to help," says Makerspace's Pete Prodoehl.

Milwaukee Makerspace face shields at work.

"A friend of mine in the Bay Area started a group called Open Source Medical Supplies that was focused on sharing designs for things needed in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Most of these things could be easily made by makers with access to 3D printers, laser cutters, sewing machines, etc.

Prodoehl and the volunteers began cutting the frames using a CNC machine last week but has since switched over to injection molding, he says.

"We've worked with Wisconsin companies to do this, and almost all of the labor is volunteer ... hundreds of hours. We've also raised over $18,000 to cover materials and tooling. Right now we are talking to groups in Arizona, California and Florida about supplying parts to them."

Prodoehl says that OSMS has since become an actual organization and has created a local chapter, too, to help get supplies to Milwaukee-area hospitals, as well.

For about $10, Makerspace can make 15 reusable shields.

"Milwaukee Makerspace, like most non-essential places, shut down last month, and most of our members were stuck home, not able to go to the space and make things," says Prodoehl. "For me personally, if I think I can help others with my skills or my knowledge, I'm probably going to try to help. What's the old saying? 'Look for the helpers.' I want to be a helper."

If you'd like to donate money to help keep Makerspace churning out PPE to donate, visit charity.gofundme.com/o/en/campaign/ppe-for-milwaukee.

So far, the Go Fund Me campaign has raised nearly $20,000 for supplies to make the face shields.

To request a donation of PPE, go to milwaukeemakerspace.org/covid-19.

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