PPE for Flint and Genesee County

COVID 19 Resources

For up to date and accurate information about COVID safety, visit the CDC or WHO websites.

In the last two weeks Factory Two has made and distributed over 1000 pieces of PPE (Personal Protective Equipment). It has gone to hospitals, doctor's offices, ambulance companies, fire departments, essential employees, and others working on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic. We don't know how long our efforts will be required, but for now the demand is urgent and overwhelming. We are committed to using our makerspace to do our part during this crisis, and appreciate any support you can provide to help us to reach our goal.

Our Impact So Far:

Factory Two is Flint’s community makerspace, located on the edge of downtown half-way between UM-Flint and Kettering University, Hurley Hospital and Powers High School. Like most, we quickly ratcheted down our programs in mid-March as the extent of the pandemic became more clear, then locked the doors when the Stay-At-Home order was issued for March 24th. We were acting prudently, and trying to keep both a sense of resolve and a sense of humor about the interruption.

 Around this time we were learning there was nothing funny about the lack of Personal Protective Equipment available for local hospitals, first responders, and caregivers. It was a real problem, one that risked the lives of workers, patients, and the general public. Nationally the maker community was beginning to step up, initially with 3D printed masks being created by makerspaces, hobbyists and small businesses. Factory Two’s 3D printer capacity is limited, but our founder Michael Wright came across a design for laser cutting face shields using materials we had on hand or that could be sourced locally. The wood stock was at the space, the shield part were just transparencies – old stock found in many offices at the bottom of the storage closet. The elastic was the toughest to find, but over a dozen people donated from their sewing supplies to let us keep working. Over 150 of these masks were quickly delivered and put to use in Genesee County.

By this time the national makers group, Nation of Makers , was connected with hospitals and health care professionals to get feedback on the first generation of designs. Acrylic was preferred to wood – easier to sanitize. Delivering unassembled took up less space as long as putting them together was simple. Mike made some tweaks and switched over to Version Two, which required less material and much less assembly time. Our neighbors at Rogers Foam  were able to donate materials for the padding which were then slit in the woodshop at Factory Two.

This model was quicker to produce, and over 500 were created and distributed to people on the front lines of the crisis. This included staff at local hospitals, but also people involved in food distribution, patient transport, social services, ambulance companies, and more. Across the country big companies were starting to get into PPE production, but there was were still serious supply chain issues in making enough and then getting it where it was needed.

By this point Factory Two was running low on supplies, and there was very little available to order on-line. We solicited donations via our web page to buy what we could - raising over $2,000 that way. Meanwhile our co-founder Jon Hardman had been working with Dr. Bobby Mukkamala and Bobby's son Nikhil on a project to 3D print the “Montana Mask,” an approved N95 mask design being adapted across the country. Creating these in quantity requires several 3D printers for the initial build, then additional work to finish the buildout so they are usable. The makerspace became a drop-off point where the final assembly could take place. Volunteers from the Factory Two staff and Kettering University student body worked in shifts to finish the masks and get them where they were needed. We got a hold of a quantity of PLA (the material used for the masks) and started donating to local hobbyists so they could continue making masks. We did not get into the sewn cloth masks because the good folks at St Lukes NEW Life Center  were already equipped and staffed to begin making those in quantity.

We now had two distinct products that worked well together, and a growing list of organizations looking for PPE. The labor bottleneck had been largely solved, but the lack of materials and relatively slow creation of shields was becoming a problem. This led to adoption Version 3, using stamped face shields from Rogers Foam  and a new style headband that does not require elastic. Bulk material was sourced from Transcendia , who waived shipping and cutting costs, and the order was shared with Maker Works in Ann Arbor to lower the cost. This batch is enough for 17,500 shields.

The new headbands can be 3D printed, cut on a ShopBot router, or injection molded. The updated goal is to have 2000 more face shields delivered in the coming weeks, along with as many masks as can be printed. This will require a more sustained fundraising effort to keep things moving forward. We have ordered significant amounts of PLA and are distributing it to folks who own 3D printers. They take it home to make the headband piece and then bring them back in batches of 50 or 100.

At Factory Two we are well aware that major corporations are working to increase the availability of these and other crucial equipment. We don’t want to out-make and out-fundraise the need, which is why we are in close contact with the heath care personnel and others desperate for more protection. Our sense is they are weeks away from getting everything they need via their usual supply chain, and our goal is to help fill that gap as much as possible. By creating only for immediate needs we will be able to ease of as quickly as we ramped up with a minimum of waste. Any donated funds or materials will not be wasted – they will be used for similar civic efforts like our creation of assistive technology for individuals with limited strength or mobility in their hands.

While the COVID-19 outbreak is a once-in-a-lifetime event, it is not the only crisis that will catch us off guard. Factory Two is being deliberate in our actions and is dedicated to learning all we can. We are creating new partnerships with designers, suppliers and hobbyists that can be leveraged in the future. We are building processes that can be refined and used again – things like rapid prototyping, organizing volunteers, assessing needs and budgeting accordingly. This whole situation is a test of our model; one that professes to be DIY, non-hierarchical, creative, and responsive to community needs. When this is all over we hope that the assessment will be we did what we could with what we had to help as much as possible. Your support is greatly appreciated. We are a 501c(3) non-profit and all donations are deductible to the full extent allowed by law.

Going forward we are guided by some key points originally identified by Maker Works. Our PPE should be:

• Be requested by a hospital, health provider, or other front-line organization
• Be an approved design
• Made with available materials
• Made on available tools/machines
• Created by people with skills
• Have a channel for getting to the people that need it
For more information about Factory Two please visit us online. To get more information about how to get involved please e-mail [email redacted]. Please allow a bit of time for a response. Like many in the community our staff has been furloughed and all the folks working on this project are volunteers.

What We Are Making:

Face Shields:

Patients with COVID-19 experience significant respiratory issues, resulting in coughing. Virus particles are easily spread in the fluids expelled from the patient during episodes of coughing. The face shield is an additional barrier between the healthcare worker and the patient, reduces the risk of viral transmission via airborne droplets, and reduces virus load on face masks worn underneath the face shield. (Full Info: https://docs.google.com/document/d/14GyjfQHCUBYXt14rdb1bHVk-JzVFBmgbmjx1ar00lq4/edit#)

Montana Masks:

Respirators protect healthcare workers from exposure to airborne droplets and aerosolized viruses by filtering inspired air. They have different sizes and must be fitted to the healthcare worker once per year. N95 respirators are typically made from specialized material called meltblown fabric which is difficult to source outside the N95 manufacturing chain. During the current crisis 3D printed respirators with a medical-grade filter have been vetted and approved for use (Full Info: https://www.makethemasks.com/)
  • Jerry Humphrey 
    • $25 
    • 16 mos
  • Linda Strugala 
    • $50 
    • 16 mos
  • debbie wierenga 
    • $75 
    • 17 mos
  • Jude Castillo 
    • $50 
    • 17 mos
  • Anonymous 
    • $25 
    • 18 mos
See all

Fundraising team: Factory Two Response to COVID-19 (5)

Joel Rash 
Raised $2,548 from 39 donations
Flint, MI
Red Ink Flint Inc (Flint Local 432, Factory Two) 
Registered nonprofit
Donations are typically 100% tax deductible in the US.
Learn more
Craig Farrington 
Team member
Raised $150 from 2 donations
Mike Wright 
Team member
Raised $125 from 4 donations
Cassie Kent 
Team member
Raised $45 from 2 donations
Ana Vargas 
Team member
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