Chippewa Valley Makers create PPE for the community

Published: Apr. 21, 2020 at 3:53 PM CDT
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A local partnership between multiple organizations has been formed to meet the need for personal protective equipment in the area.

The Chippewa Valley Makers Network is a collaboration between UWEC, Mayo Clinic, individual community members, and the Pablo Center.

“Chippewa Valley Makers is a informal group of organizations and community members with 3D printers who’ve come together to help our local healthcare providers and provide what we can for personal protective equipment,” says Dr. Michael Lee, the Community Outreach and Workforce Development Manager for the Pablo Center.

They’ve all come together because of their access to 3D printers, and are using that resource to print face shields and ear straps for healthcare professionals. Each shield takes up to two hours to make, but they are working on designs that take less time so that they can distribute more.

“We reached out the Pablo Center reached out to Mayo Health Systems and at the same time they’ve had a working relationship with UW-Eau Claire and other individuals reached out and we joined on the conference call and formed Chippewa Valley Makers as a collective way to organize and become more efficient,” says Lee.

Dr. Michael Lee is using borrowed 3D printers, printing between toys and books in his basement.

“I’m currently working with 5 printers personally that have come from Pablo Center and the children's museum,” he says.

After the parts for the face shields are printed, they’re dropped off to be assembled by UWEC students.

“We let them sit bagged up for 3 days, in case there happens to be any virus on there, the virus is shown to go away in 3 days on this type of plastic,” says Lee.

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