School of Interactive Arts & Technology, Technology & Society, engagement

Frontline healthcare works received ear savers and face shields made by the B.C. COVID-19 Printing Group.

Printing for good: SFU staff, students and alumni volunteer with the B.C. COVID-19 3D Printing Group

May 29, 2020

By Tessa Perkins Deneault

Nearly 300 3D printing enthusiasts have recently joined forces across Greater Vancouver to contribute to the fight against COVID-19, including SFU staff, students and alumni.

The B.C. COVID-19 3D Printing Group (BCC3D) is a unique group of dedicated volunteers who are donating their time and resources to respond to the COVID-19 crisis. So far, the group has delivered more than 7,000 face shields and 35,000 ear savers.

Frontline healthcare worker with ear savers.

Maja Jensen, lead production technologist of the Solid Space Lab at SFU’s School of Interactive Arts and Technology (SIAT) is a BCC3D volunteer. In mid-March, she took home one of SIAT’s 3D printers and was ready to respond when she received her first request: 130 ear savers for SFU School of Communication manager Manjeet Gill’s daughter, a nurse at Vancouver General Hospital.

SIAT has continued to support her with equipment and supplies in order to keep printing after that initial batch. Using an open source file provided by BCC3D, she is now producing 30-50 pieces per day.

“I’m planning to continue as long as needed,” says Jensen. “I think the BCC3D will be an ongoing network and see some longevity even if not in this exact form.”

Petko Ganachev, BCC3D’s founder, agrees. He would also like to see the group continue to produce PPE or other items that are needed by the community and is looking into registering the group as a non-profit association.

“I don’t think we’ve filled the demand,” says Ganachev.

As donated materials run dry, the group is looking for more contributors to donate supplies or funding to help cover the high costs of 3D printing — the group is collectively spending approximately $1,300 on filament each week.

Kevin Vo, a computing science and microbiology and biochemistry student in his final year at SFU is printing 50 face shields and 100 ear savers every week, and he has launched a GoFundMe page to help fund his work with the BCC3D.

“I believe as a community we should do anything we can to help our healthcare workers who are risking their lives for ours every day,” says Vo.

Solomon Su, an SFU alumnus who studied education, is happy to be able to do his part to give back.

“I believe in the saying ‘today you, tomorrow me,’” says Su. “I've always felt the need to give back and support my community in every way possible. I have many friends working on the frontline tirelessly and knowing that I can be a part of making their days better, I will.”

James Evans, a mechatronic systems engineering alumnus, found himself with the skills, equipment and time to make a difference, so he fired up his 3D printer and it has kept him feeling productive while being stuck at home.

Mechatronic systems engineering alumnus James Evans.

“Seeing the amount of initiative that the group has gives me a lot of hope,” says Evans. “We've been able to mobilize really quickly and provide a lot of support for frontline healthcare workers. I'm glad that a lot of members of the SFU community are a part of this group.”

Learn more about how the SFU community is using 3D printing to respond to COVID-19:

SFU engineering students use 3D printing skills to develop COVID-19 supplies

SFU alumni contributing to the fight against COVID-19