Kūpa‘a Kaua‘i: A Unified Vision for Our Island’s Recovery

Story – Makerspace

Kauai Makerspace: 3D Printing for Safer Schools

We asked Rich O’Reilly to tell us more about the work that he and his students at Kauai Makerspace are doing to 3D print face shields for our community.
Rich started printing PPE right after Covid-19 hit the US. He saw a lot of postings about PPE on Facebook and started looking at what he might be able to do to help us locally. Soon after, he got a message from Hawaii Pacific Health asking if he had time to help them make a face shield.

As part of the initial effort, Rich had a network of about 30 printers 3D printing units for about 8 to 10 weeks here on Kauai. Several members of Kauai Makerspace helped as did the STEM teacher at Kauai High School, Elena Kealoha. You can read more about the team who contributed to this initial work in the Garden Island News article: https://www.thegardenisland.com/2020/03/27/hawaii-news/stem-helps-with-covid-19-battle/

According to Rich, “Each unit takes about 4 &1/2 hours to print. Then there is some work to do to the clear face shield material, padding and elastic head band so you could say 5 hours would cover the time needed for each unit.” He told us that the team printed well over 3000 units, many of which went directly to Oahu where they were assembled. Some of those came back to the island as demand required.

Now Rich and the team are making units mostly for Kauai. “We are currently printing for the Special Education group on Kauai but we have done some for the fire department as well as dentists, home care workers, nursing home workers, hair dressers and many of our members as well,” said Rich.
One of the most inspiring aspects of this story is that many of the “makers” are students. Rich told us that as the effort has slowed down “the Kauai Makerspace members are doing the printing and assembling too. The younger members and their families are creating the latest orders for face shields.” Many of his dedicated students like Kaia, Sage, Kalia, and Stella have been helping in this current effort. An 11th grade student at Kauai High reached out and took 4 printers into his home and printed 24/7. “These are young kids that are stepping up and making me really proud of them and the Makerspace,” said Rich.

“There are those that without any delay just signed up for printing 24/7 as soon as they heard from me. Those that just reached out to me and offered help with donations and manual labor. I had a woman reach out to me who had never printed a thing in her life and offered to purchase several printers to help us and please could I show her how to print so she could do it at home 24/7 and then donate funds to purchase material too,” said Rich.

In addition to students and their families volunteering their time to help, Rich has received support and donations from local businesses. He said “I posted on face book some of what we were doing and I started receiving donations for material there as well.” He has received supplies and donations from Hawaii Community Foundation, KEMA Logistics, Hawaii Pacific Health, Global Algae Innovations, and other members and friends to keep this effort going.

If you are in need of face shields or would like to learn more about the Makerspace, you can reach out to Rich here: http://kauaimakerspace.org/contact/ 

We are thankful to Rich for his efforts to supply our community with much needed face shields, but also for teaching his students that they can make a difference. The story of Kauai Makerspace is a great reminder that everyone can play a role in helping their community, regardless of your age or resources. Kupaa Kauai! Together we can move Kauai Forward!

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