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Santa Barbara- S County

Local residents dust off 3D printers and crank out protective face shields

Members of the Bucket Brigade assemble protective shields made from a 3D printer.
(Photo: Beth Farnsworth)

MONTECITO, Calif. - Marco Farrell was one of more than a dozen residents in town who answered a Facebook post by the Bucket Brigade, asking people with 3D printers to help make protective face shields during the coronavirus pandemic.

"It can take anywhere from 10 minutes for a small part -- this is a bracket we're making for our face shields -- to an hour and 15 minutes for a visor of a face shield," Farrell said, holding up plastic parts.

Spools of plastic printer filament and other materials lined a table in the Farrell family's Olive Mill Road home while the 3D printer tapped out countless small, red brackets.

"This is my way of paying it forward," Farrell said.

3D materials line a table in the Farrell family home.
(Photo: Bryce Hanamoto)

Farrell said he is profoundly grateful to the Bucket Brigade volunteers for helping his family two years ago during the disastrous mudslide and debris flow.

Abe Powell and Ian Kellett spent part of Wednesday afternoon helping Farrell assemble parts to make the protective shields. Powell said the specific model they used met guidelines put out by the National Institutes of Health. Farrell said the shield itself is "pretty strong" and credited family friends for helping finance the project.

Powell said posting the call for help on Facebook paid off in a big way.

"When you do that, sometimes good things happen and in this case, a great thing happened," Powell said. "One of the early innovators in 3D printing saw our post and Jenna and Avi from Exponential Works in Ventura called me to say they're going to bring us 2,000 masks today and we're going to be able to get those to firefighters, first responders and critical service workers within the next two days."

3D printers at SBCAST making parts for face shields. (Photo: Ian Kellett/Bucket Brigade)

Grocery clerks at the Von's in Montecito were expected to be among essential frontline workers getting part of this home assembled stock.

"That's printed as per specifications," Farrell said, holding up a plastic visor. "It will then be sanitized and assembled and then bagged and distributed."

Wednesday's homemade batch totaled roughly 50 face shields. Farrell said the work will continue for months.

"The need is not going to end tomorrow," Farrell said. "It's not going to end next month. It's not going to end this summer ... There is a huge value to this collective "we" versus just buying a container full and distributing them."

If you'd like to help make, distribute or donate to the 3D face shield effort, contact the Bucket Brigade: sbbucketbrigade.org

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Beth Farnsworth

Beth Farnsworth is the evening anchor for KEYT NewsChannel 3.