Community Group uses 3D Printers to Produce Thousands of Face Shields for Hospitals, Clinics and Institutions across the Chicago Area

West Suburban 3D Face Shield Printers

In this time of crisis, many community members are taking it upon themselves to step up, pitch in and offer innovative support. Their grass-roots efforts are making waves across social media platforms as online connections are being made and personal protective equipment (PPE) shortages are being addressed.

One such community group recognized the need for face shields and quickly put their plan into action. They call themselves the “West Suburban 3D Face Shield Printers,” and their Facebook page states they are a group of 3D home printers organized to “produce face shields for medical staff, first responders, nursing homes, and other facilities helping people during the Covid-19 pandemic.”

“We started this project on March 30 after seeing a news story about a group in Chicago who printed face shields for Swedish Covenant Hospital. My son, Tim (age 17), does the printing in our house and has an Ender 3 Pro 3D printer in our basement,” said mom Susan Pipal.

“I print about 20 face shields a day in my basement, and it is great that these small pieces of plastic can make lifesaving protective wear for brave healthcare workers. I’m just so happy to be able to help,” said Tim.

According to Susan, Tim is a “techy kid” with his eye on becoming a commercial pilot. “He has a workshop/lab in our basement where he is always inventing things, like simple machines, and he designs and builds his own RC model aircraft,” explains Susan.

Susan’s fellow organizers include Julie Puscheck, who also distributes face shields from her home in south Naperville, and Alan Miller, the “3D printing guru” who is organizing and offering support to all the new 3D printers and running the group’s Facebook page. Currently, the group consists of roughly 20-25 people using home 3D printers to make plastic face shields. They use an online face shield template recommended by Swedish Covenant Group.

Susan and Julie already knew each other because their sons attend the same school. They met Alan through Facebook and their common interest in helping out with the PPE shortage. And, thanks to team member Amy Jacksic’s social media expertise, word quickly got out about their amazing work. In no time they had all the materials donated to keep making the shields.

By March 31 the group received their first big request for face shields from Glenbrook Hospital, and even delivered the order on the same day. “Things moved quickly after that first delivery! To date we have donated and delivered 2,014 face shields to different institutions,” said Susan.

The list of face shield recipients includes more than 25 hospitals, medical centers and clinics, of which West Suburban Medical Center is a part. From the University of Chicago to Loyola Medical Center to Alexian Brothers Medical Center and Hines VA Hospital, the group’s shields have made it all across the Chicago area and beyond.

“I want to acknowledge our hard-working team who are often up every couple of hours during the middle of the night reloading the printers. It is a true act of love and volunteerism,” added Susan.

The 3D Printer team includes:

  • Alan and Deirdre Miller
  • Jack Debris
  • Matt Murphy
  • Rich Sternickle
  • John Ricchio
  • Cristina Saldana-Davis
  • Nathan Stowe
  • Ben Baptist
  • Dave Weishaar
  • Erick Koenig
  • Garrett Gross
  • Zach Cameron
  • Doc Mack
  • Michael Danna
  • Paul Park
  • Tom Fennell

To Susan, Tim, and fellow volunteers: Thank you! Our front-line staff at West Suburban is very grateful – and touched – by your generosity and ingenuity.