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April 3, 2020

Architecture firms marshal resources to supply health workers with face shields

Journal Staff Reporter

Photo by Grace Zhang [enlarge]
MZA CEO Ming Zhang and his wife, Tracy Zhang, work on creating face shields, like the one Tracy is wearing, for Valley Medical Center.

Photo by David Burpee [enlarge]
Weber Thompson is using a 3D printer to create bands for face shields. The bands take two to three hours to print.

How you can help
• Seattle Makers lists ways you can help from home at https://seattlemakers.org/.

• PRUSA provides open-source plans for printed face shields at https://www.prusa3d.com/covid19/.

Architecture firms Weber Thompson of Seattle and MZA of Bellevue are helping supply face shields and goggles to fight the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic locally.

Over a two-week period, Weber Thompson plans to print 100 bands — the rigid plastic piece to which the clear face shield attaches to protect the wearer. The bands will be delivered to Seattle Makers, which will attach them and distribute the shields.

Makers' goal is to produce or collect 5,000 shields for distribution to local hospitals, essential businesses and facilities, homeless shelter workers and others fighting COVID-19, according to Jeremy Hanson, a co-founder. Makers is giving them free to those who can't afford them, and charging those who can, with part of the effort being crowdfunded.

He said people and firms are involved in making the shields or donating components and time to assemble them. “A lot of small businesses are jumping in,” he said.

Hanson said Seattle Makers is sharing the best solutions with makers spaces across the country.

Weber Thompson chose a design for the bands that was approved by local hospitals for use, and that takes two to three hours to print.

However, the firm said other designs that don't meet the standards of those hospitals might meet other hospitals' standards and can also be used in shields for people working in critical jobs where they interact with the public, such as cashiers. They can be printed quicker.

Erin Hatch, the marketing director at Weber Thompson, said many of the products they need to make the bands are in short supply, but if her firm can get enough they will print more as needed. David Burpee, an associate, is printing the bands at home on a 3D printer owned by the firm. He is also doing project work.

Hatch said architects can go to the website of 3D printer manufacturer PRUSA, which provides open-source plans to help in printing the bands. (See the information box for a link to the site.)

Ming Zhang, CEO of Bellevue architecture firm MZA, said his family made 40 face shields for Valley Medical Center in Renton using anti-fog plastic sheets, foam and elastic bands. The materials were donated by a friend, Jun Li.

Zhang said his family, including his wife, Tracy, and daughter Grace, is hoping to make 1,000 more shields with the help of friends in the next 10 days if they can get enough material, which is in short supply.

He said his family and friends ordered from China 150 face goggles to give to Valley Medical, and MZA's Shanghai office has been coordinating the purchase and delivery. If the goggles meet Valley Medical's standards, MZA will order at least 500 more for the hospital and the Zhangs' friends group will order an additional 200.

Erin Hatch with Weber Thompson said hobby printers in the region are also printing the bands, as are architecture, engineering and construction firms in other parts of the country. She said her firm will spread the word on social media and via its industry connections about the need.


Lynn Porter can be reached by email or by phone at (206) 622-8272.

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