AMI Prints Face Shields with Messages for Essential Workers

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio — Advanced Methods in Innovation is joining the supply line for personal protective materials during the COVID-19 pandemic, but also wants to provide moral support for the individuals using that gear.

AMI, a 501(c)3 that supports schools and other nonprofits with educational services and products related to 3D printing, is making its printers available to manufacture face shields needed by people in settings from health-care facilities to grocery stores. The organization is accepting donations to print the protective gear for those workers with personalized messages. 

Jack Scott, board chairman of AMI, and Julie Michael Smith, its executive director, became aware of the continuing need for personal protective gear through widespread news coverage of the pandemic. 

“We have 50 3D printers that can run continuously,” Scott said. “We saw a need and an opportunity for us to be a major contributor.” 

That need wasn’t just for health-care workers and first responders but also for other workers deemed essential, such as people working in gas stations, grocery stores and nursing homes, Smith said. 

“Quite honestly, a lot of these people on the front lines often are low-wage earners,” she said. “I don’t think we really recognize how important they are. They’re putting their lives on the line every day our there.” Many are not in a position to not go to work and are potentially exposing their families when they come home, she added. 

AMI’s printers are used to print the visors and Scott has secured a supply of plastic shields that can then be attached. A personalized message of appreciation, encouragement or hope can be printed onto the visor.

Face shields will be printed with a special message to the end user.

For each $25 donated, AMI will print four personalized face shields with the same message and send them to the essential worker of the donor’s choosing. The donation will pay for the materials and labor to create the masks and cover shipping costs. 

“It demonstrates the power of 3D printing. You can’t personalize a face shield except through 3D printing,” Scott said. The visor design is one of the ones approved by the National Institutes of Health and the face shield is high quality, Scott said.  

“It has to do the job,” Smith said. Some shields cant be seen through clearly or can distort the wearer’s vision, she said. 

The ability to add the message to the mask is unique and AMI is in “a unique position” to be able to implement it, Scott said. It also is consistent with the message the Mahoning Valley wants to present to showcase the potential of 3D printing. 

Most importantly, it provides the ability to connect with people during a time of crisis. “So many of us feel kind of helpless,” he said. 

The donor also can include drawings by school children or other items that can fit in the envelope with the shields, and the donor will be sent a picture of the face shield that was printed featuring the message.    

The face shields can be used in conjunction with masks to provide an additional level of protection, Scott said. The shields help prevent the coronavirus from entering the body through the eyes, and help prevent people from touching their face.  

“You almost can’t be too safe,” he said. “That’s what it’s going to take to eradicate this, right?”

Individuals and organizations can make donations here. Organizations that need face masks can email Smith at [email protected]

AMI is affiliated with Vista AST LLC, an education technology firm with its headquarters and a maker space at the Youngstown Business Incubator.

Pictured above: Julie Michael Smith, executive director of Advanced Methods in Innovation, says for every $25 donated, the organization will print four face shields for essential workers on the front lines.

Copyright 2022 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.