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Medical Protective Equipment Rapid Response

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Right now there is a massive shortage in Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for medical, emergency, and first responder personnel because of the global outbreak of COVID-19. Traditional supply cannot meet this accelerated demand. This new reality requires new solutions.

No longer can we wait for what we need. We need to use what we have to help save lives. We have a responsibility to step up and help however we can.

These Chicago startups and innovators made up of current consumer products, design & innovation firms, and ex-Motorola engineers, have joined together to build off-the-shelf solutions for those on the front-line of this pandemic. Using readily-available materials combined with affordable 3D-printed components, medical and emergency workers will have a new path to access face shields, masks, and powered air-purifying respirators (PAPR).

Design, development, and testing phases are complete. Now, we just need your help to secure the raw materials and components to turn these prototypes into life-saving devices.

Join us in helping to ensure new protective equipment is made available to those who need it most. Give to the PPE Rapid Response and help our Chicago startups move even faster.

The Problem:

Our hospital staff members are our frontline workers. If hospital staff contract the virus, they are required to stay home and not work for 14 days and show no symptoms for 3 days without medication. And that’s the *best-case* scenario.

We must protect these workers and the capacity they provide at our hospitals.

With a shortage of standard medical personal protective equipment, doctors and nurses are forced to re-use or forego materials that would otherwise protect them from the virus.

In order to get new equipment, manufacturers need to gather the materials, make the supplies, package them up, put them on a truck that puts them on a boat or a plane that puts them on another truck that takes them to a hub where another truck takes them to hospitals. We don’t have time for all that.

Our frontline workers need protective equipment NOW.

Who We Are:

We are a group of Chicago makers, entrepreneurs, innovators, inventors, engineers, and designers, who saw a need and stepped up to fill it. We decided to refocus our efforts and donate our time and workforce to design and prototype solutions.

As part of the larger CPR COVID-19  (Chicago Proactive Response) lead by innovation centers mHUB, MATTER, and 1871, this group is focused on PPE and the maker community. We're all working toward the same goal, and we find that working together gets us better results.

What We’re Doing:

We are decentralizing this complex and time-consuming process by innovating new solutions using existing materials. By using off-the-shelf products with a few small 3D-printed components we are enabling people to build their own solutions for a fraction of the cost.

Our team of engineers, designers, and logistics professionals have paused their commercial initiatives to put resources toward solving this problem. After consulting local doctors and medical professionals around the world, we have focused our teams' efforts on developing real solutions.

The team from Jiobit  has designed and developed protective face shields that are comfortable, adjustable, interchangeable, and available at a mere fraction of the cost of existing solutions. Using a 3D printed frame, readily-available 1” elastic bands, and 8.5”x11” transparency sheets, this tool-less design uses a standard 3-hole punch to align the transparency sheets to the frame and create a face mask in seconds.

The PAPR project team from MP Consulting  and PDT, an Astronics Company, have worked together to create a prototype for a Powered Air-Purifying Respirator (PAPR) using a diving mask, custom 3D-printed adapters, standard hoses, and a battery-powered filter box from off-the-shelf components. Easy to sanitize and adjust, it’s even easier to procure.

The team at mHub  is building and manufacturing a shippable low-cost protective face shield. They have developed a rapid manufacturing process that will allow for up to 100,000 shields to be made per week. 

The team at Rheaply , in coordination with Northwestern University's Department of Computer Science, has created an online exchange for critical medical devices and supplies. This makes it easier for those who have resources to connect with those that desperately need them.

Why This Method?

Readily available
If you have to wait 6 weeks in order to build the tools to manufacture new devices, we have taken too much time.

Sourced locally
With minimal shipping of parts needed and 3D print files shared digitally, these materials can be made anywhere in the world.

Modular & adaptable
As we learn how these products are used, we can continually improve the design and the operational sourcing of the components.

The cheaper this equipment is, the more we can provide to medical professionals around the world.

How We Will Use The Money:

We are creating an independent non-profit wing to manage and distribute the funds. 

We will purchase individual components like hoses, pumps, and filters, as well as activate 3D printing facilities to print the custom components needed. Spinning up a typical manufacturing facility takes herculean effort, but with our experience and planning, we're able to start immediately once funds are received.

If we reach our goal of $250k, $100k will be used to get materials to build ~20,000 facemasks, $150k to get materials to build ~750 PAPR systems, all to be distributed at cost locally and shared open source with others to build locally as well.

Even without reaching our goal, this money will go to use immediately:

At $10k we plan to deliver 2,000 facemasks, at $20k, we plan to deliver the first 100 PAPRs, and at $100k we plan to deliver another 5,000 facemasks and another 250 PAPRs. More updates to follow.

Our primary goal is to move fast and get materials into the hands of those that need them sooner rather than later. Our first milestone is $10k.


  • Anonymous
    • $250 
    • 4 yrs
  • Ian Sherr
    • $50 
    • 4 yrs
  • Anonymous
    • $25 
    • 4 yrs
  • Camelia Miu
    • $50 
    • 4 yrs
  • Jennifer Lockbaum
    • $100 
    • 4 yrs

Fundraising team: Chicago Startup Rapid Reponse (5)

Chicago Startups
Chicago, IL
Sharon Harrison
John Renaldi
Team member
Mitul Patel
Team member
Bill Fienup
Team member
Nick Cucci
Team member

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