River Cities Harvest Using 3D Printers to Assist Medical Field

Carly Carver, Editor

The Ashland Beacon

   Through the COVID-19 crisis, there have been many stories of the community coming together to help one another. Here in Ashland, what started as a social media post stating a local hospital needed face shields, quickly turned into a local nonprofit organization, River Cities Harvest and several active businesses and community members, 3D printing them to fill that need.

   “If we can help, then let’s do it,” said Brittnany Hoback, the Executive Director of River Cities Harvest. “This is what we are here for, and we have the equipment to do it, so let’s do it.”

   Hoback said the idea first started when a local physician’s wife made a social media post stating that there was a shortage of face shields for the providers at the hospital. 

   Hoback then saw another post, by a local dentist’s office, trying to reach out to providers so that they could 3D print them for them. Though the dentist’s office’s printer wasn’t compatible with the program, Hoback said that River Cities Harvest was able to intervene and assist, as they have a total of eight 3D printers.

   “We can print the face shields and some other stuff, but we cannot print the clear part that goes over top of it,” said Hoback. “We ended up placing an order for it, a very large roll of it is now coming.”

   Hoback said that currently four of the printers are fired up and printing the shields, but they have the capacity to use all eight if more are needed, however, they’ll need some more assistance from the community first.

   Hoback said that the clear covering is an expensive product to order, so they are seeking out a company that may be able to assist them in ordering it at a reduced cost so that they can fill more of these orders. The clear face shields at a cheaper cost is one of the most pressing needs for this project, said Hoback.

   There are also additional ways to help. 

   “We still need elastic bands, the foam that goes on the visors, and of course, monetary donations help us,” said Hoback. 

   Hoback recently launched an online fundraiser on GoFundMe.com, to raise money for the products needed to print the face shields. The goal online is to raise $2,000. 

   Diamond Lewis, owner of the Treasure Hunt, donated ten filament rolls, enough to do 300 face shields, along with toilet paper and Clorox wipes to River Cities Harvest. 

   Lewis said that after they started firing up their 3D printer, he made a “live video” on social media that sparked others 3D printing as far as Rhode Island. 

“This is why I love living in this community, the teamwork never stops,” said Lewis. “It was here before COVID-19, it’ll be here after COVID-19. We are here helping everybody. Helping each other. That’s what drives me. The way we help those in need.”

   Hoback said in addition to Lewis, Renee Parsons and Ben Dingus have been instrumental to the creation of the face shields. 

   Parsons, who leads an employment-initiative program that teaches skills from a wide range including sewing, brush therapy, laser engraving, and 3D printing, has a group of individuals assisting in the creation of the face shields as well. 

   Parsons was able to find the file to create the face shields on the 3D printers. 

   “We are also working in very close coordination with ACTC, who are also printing face shields,” said Parsons.

   Hoback said that the 3D printer is working around the clock to fill the orders and that they will continue to work until they have filled the need. As of Friday, the group has printed and crafted approximately 50 face shields for local health care workers. 

   Parsons said that the group had two 3D printers recently break down and are looking for assistance to get replacements.