Helping from Home: Printing face shields for the frontline

Helping from home: How Siemens employees are using 3D printing to support healthcare providers 

By: Barbara Humpton, CEO of Siemens USA

I recently wrote about how we’re helping America address COVID-19 by staying true to the mission that defines us as a company: serving society. 


And it’s because of the people on our team that we’re able to carry out this larger mission, from the employees on the front lines supporting America’s critical infrastructure, to those collaborating with hospitals, factories and state and local governments to strengthen response efforts, to those making sure that our workforce stays safe and healthy. 


A few weeks into this crisis, and we’re already seeing the positive impact that Siemens employees are making. They’re taking the initiative to ensure urgent projects are on schedule, like the optimization of new hospital spaces. They’re mobilizing our manufacturing networks to address shortages of critical healthcare supplies by connecting designers and suppliers

And what we also see, and what really inspires me, are the companywide grassroots efforts taken on by individual employees and teams to use their 3D printing expertise and tools to produce personal protective equipment (PPE) for doctors, nurses and medical staff in their local communities. At a time when many employees are adjusting to working from home, they’ve felt a call to make a difference that exemplifies our company mission of service to society.  


Here are the stories of just a few of those employees:  

Detroit, Michigan: Making face shields in the basement

Greg Siwicki, a 20-year Siemens veteran and IT systems analyst, was enlisted by his wife to help a family friend who works for Beaumont Health, Michigan’s largest healthcare system, which operates eight hospitals. 


“Our friend is a nurse and heard people were printing them with a 3D printer, and she asked if I could help,” Siwicki said.


Siwicki typically prints for fun. He has two printers, one of which he built himself. He’s printed a case for his Amazon Echo and a bread slicer, but never PPE. Working from home, like many Siemens employees, Siwicki recognized a chance to do double duty. 


He picked two designs for a face shield from the many examples he found on the internet and printed a few prototypes. With feedback from his nurse friend, he tweaked the design and then hit overdrive. His printers have been humming around the clock and, so far, he has printed 100 face shields and has enough material on hand to print 200 more. 


“I feel like I am contributing and really making an impact,” Siwicki said. “I’m so glad I am able to help.”

Upstate New York: Testing prototypes for friends and family

Siemens Smart Infrastructure Design Engineer Lucas DeWeese, of Potsdam, reached out directly to his local hospital to offer his 3D printing capabilities. The hospital now has two of his face-shield prototypes and are testing their effectiveness. He expects some feedback and plans to start printing and delivering to the hospital right after. 


“I’m just looking to help out,” DeWeese said. “I have a lot of family and friends who are nurses, and they are going to work every day not even sure if they are safe. The least we can do is help them. I could be a patient on the other side of that mask tomorrow.” 


Nearby, in Syracuse, Energy Engineer Prashant Arora is making use of a Siemens 3D printer to produce face masks. 


His wife, a speech and language pathologist at a nursing home, works directly with a high-risk community. 

“I read how everyone is trying to print face masks,” Arora said, “So, I found a few designs and am printing prototypes to see what will work best for her. I want to keep her safe and her friends safe.”


Charlotte, North Carolina: Tweaking designs to ramp up production


In response to a call in Mecklenburg County for specific healthcare items, Siemens Corporate Technology Specialist Engineer Kyle Stoodt assembled a COVID-19 response team consisting of himself, Siemens Energy employee Peter Sullivan and another friend who own their own 3D printers and laser cutters and who also have access to a Siemens 3D printer.


Stoodt and his team, whose wives are all nurses, purchased the materials to make face shields and found an open-source design that allowed them to 3D print eight face shields a day. They tweaked the design and are now printing nearly 50 face shields daily.


“We are 3D printing headbands for face shields and laser cutting thin sheets of clear plastic to make the shield body that snaps onto the printed headband,” Stoodt said. “Then we flat pack everything and deliver to the local hospitals in need.”


In just a few days, while working from home, Stoodt and his team delivered more than 150 face shields to local healthcare workers and plan to package another 150 over the next several days. The team has purchased enough materials to print another 2,000 face shields.  


Princeton, New Jersey: High-tech talent focused on improved 3D printing


Siemens Corporate Technology employees, based in Princeton, have also been busy printing face shields intended for delivery to nearby healthcare facilities in need of PPEs. Senior Principal Arquimedes Canedo has already printed dozens of shields with his personal 3D printer with the help of his colleague, Liz Blatchford, who fit the shields into their frames. Volunteer Senior Engineer Sindhu Suresh said she just couldn’t sit by idly without supporting her community, adding, “In times of need, we all need to band together and help one another.”


We’re all seeking to answer the question, What can we do? At Siemens, that means deploying ingenuity, extending compassion and championing service in our work and in our communities. We’ve overcome tough odds before as a society – and this challenge will be no different.


See how my fellow colleagues from around the country are using their expertise to help out their local communities during this challenging time in this Facebook album


Published on: April 9, 2020