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"Roy Kirschner, the founder and president of Ultimate 3D Printing Store in the Tampa, Florida area, had a similar idea and said he has quickly reoriented his businesses to produce the boxes using high-quality protective glass, after learning about the design of the Taiwanese doctor's innovation from a California doctor’s Facebook post.
“I just immediately saw him like, wow, this is something like I can immediately change from manufacturing lids for 3-D printers,” he told ABC News. “I started calling a couple of my fabricators and figured out we could make 50 to 60 a day.”
Kirschner is currently making and distributing the boxes to local Florida hospitals who have requested them, and is seeking to raise more money to purchase more high-quality plastic and distribute them across the country."
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Ultimate3DPrintingStore is seeking support from the Tampa Bay community to help combat the surge of COVID-19 as the global pandemic continues to ravage the United States.
The Pasco County-based company is hoping to set an example for local businesses about how to brainstorm and implement efforts to provide essential resources to first responders and medical providers.
In order to do that, however, Roy Kirchner, founder and President of U3DPS , said he desperately needs the public’s help.
For the past two weeks, Kirchner has funded his company’s efforts out of his own pocket, spending tens of thousands of dollars to purchase personal protective equipment from overseas and establishing a manufacturing facility to construct aerosol boxes, which have been proven to help protect doctors and hospital staff from contracting this virus as they provide care to COVID-19 patients.
The boxes are made of acrylic and measure 30-by-20-by-16 with two 5.5-inch holes for a worker to insert their hands inside.
Ultimate 3D Printing Store is capable of making as many as 50 aerosol boxes per day, Kirchner said.
However, as Florida residents continue to shelter in place and wait for social distancing to help flatten the curve and diminish the virus’s spread, more and more essential businesses like Publix, Walmart and ABC Fine Wine & Spirits are erecting plexiglass barriers to protect customers and employees from transmitting the virus.
This sudden surge in demand for plexiglass sheets is creating a widespread shortage at a time when the same materials are desperately needed to build items like the aerosol boxes. Kirchner said he fears that Florida is fast approaching a point where plexiglass will no longer be readily available.
How Aerosol Boxes Help
The aerosol box was first developed by Dr. Lai Hsien-yung, an anesthesiologist in Taipei, Taiwan, who designed and built a prototype to help ease the strain of rapidly diminishing resources at his hospital.
The reusable clear cubed boxes cover a patient’s face and head, allowing medical providers to be protected when they reach inside to perform an endotracheal intubation without fear of being sprayed with respiratory droplets.
The design is registered as an open-source license, meaning it is free for public use.
Ultimate 3D Printing Store is currently the only Florida manufacturer listed on aerosolblock.org, an international volunteer website that is connecting a growing number of hospitals and doctors with companies across the U.S. that are able to build and ship these protective boxes.
Kirchner said his company is especially familiar with these boxes because they previously manufactured and sold the 3Domus, a safety enclosure and filtration system for Ultimaker, a 3D printing manufacturer in the Netherlands. The 3Domus was essential for schools and businesses that wanted to protect their 3D printers and prevent noxious fumes from filling the adjacent workspace and overwhelming students and employees. The 3Domus enclosure retailed for $379.
Kirchner said he is able to manufacturer and sell the protective aerosol boxes for about $195 each plus shipping. That cost includes $115 manufacturing expense, which is critical, Kirchner said.
“We are taking the time to ensure that these protective aerosol boxes are of the highest quality in order to protect medical professionals,” Kirchner said. “That means taking extra time to make sure all edges are completely smooth, especially around the twin arm holes, so that anyone reaching inside the box to work with a patient won’t be worried about puncturing or tearing their protective covering and gowns.”
The remaining funds from each sale will be used to purchase additional materials like plexiglass sheeting and to cover internal expenses, he said.
Ultimate 3D Printing Store is encouraging interested buyers to purchase at least 8 aerosol boxes per order, which will allow the company to ship them on pallets. One pallet can hold 12 individual boxes.
Other Critical Needs
Kirchner also is asking the public to make donations to this campaign so his company can purchase additional personal protective equipment, such as face shields, from providers who have those items in stock and available.
One critical need that a significant portion of donations will be used to meet is safe and secure housing for first responders who are not able to return home for fear of bringing the virus with them and infecting their families and loved ones.
“We’re realizing that nurses, doctors, paramedics, firefighters and law enforcement need to self-quarantine at the end of each day once their shift is over, and they need to do this away from their families, which is extremely stressful during a global crisis,” Kirchner said. “By having housing available, whether a hotel room or some other private accommodation, we can at the least provide them with a safe refuge so that they can rest and recharge without worrying about inadvertently contaminating others.”
We’re all in this Together
Kirchner said both he and the entire Ultimate 3D Printing Store team are aware of the significant challenges that every resident is facing and the extreme disruption that the pandemic has caused already.
“This is our home too,” he said. “Our number one goal is to do everything possible to lessen the devastating impact of COVID-19 throughout the Tampa Bay region and across our great state. We consider this to be our obligation and our mission at this time, and we are honored to step forward and try to help in any way we can.”
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Please donate what you can, but know that every dollar is being invested in our collective fight against this formidable disease.
If you are interested in speaking to Kirchner or a company representative about purchasing aerosol boxes, or if you would like to request a prototype box for testing, please contact Ultimate 3D Printing Store at (813) 280-1115 or by email at [email redacted].
- Tara Ivory-Richardson
- Michael Sadaway
- Skip Rogers