IBEW members have been spending their spare time 3D-printing face shields to fight the coronavirus pandemic. Pictured: Halifax, Nova Scotia, Local 1928 member Trevor Harding, right, and his son, Rylan.

With personal protective equipment in short supply, a number of enterprising IBEW members have stepped up to make face shields and masks for health care workers with their personal 3D printers.

Chicago Local 134 member Sammy Cozzo is making some masks customized for his IBEW brothers and sisters.

Trevor Harding, a member of Halifax, Nova Scotia, Local 1928; Daniel Ruckus, a member of Dover, N.H., Local 490; and Sammy Cozzo, a member of Chicago Local 134 all originally got their printers for personal use, for the fun of making things like Star Wars figurines and chip clips. But when the coronavirus hit, they realized they could use these devices for a greater purpose.

“I just wanted to help,” Harding said. “PPE is such an important thing.”

At a time when N95 face masks are still scarce, both the Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control suggest the use of face shields that cover the entire face when no masks are available.

Harding first started making the face shields, which involve printing the plastic headband and bottom portions and attaching them to a clear plastic shield along with a fastening device, at the end of February, around the same time as Cozzo. Ruckus says he started around the end of March. All have been working tirelessly since.  

“Normally I would be printing figures and toys,” Ruckus said. “But this is important.”

Cozzo is making plastic face masks with an air filter as well as face shields, and has given them to nurses and nursing homes as well as less likely recipients like the Guatemalan Consulate and the National Guard. Some have even gone to people in other states.

“Some people were in tears telling us how grateful they were because they have a family member with cancer or asthma,” Cozzo said. “There’s definitely a demand.”

Harding, a Prince Edward Island resident, has had a helping hand – his son, Rylan.

“It feels amazing to be able to help,” said the meter reader for Maritime Electric. “And it’s been wonderful to have my son doing this with me.”

Cozzo has also had help, from his friend Carlos Salinas as well as other Chicago-area residents with 3D printers. In all, they have about 10 people working with about 40-50 machines.

“The feedback and support has been really great,” Cozzo said. “It’s definitely not just me.”

Harding first shipped his face shields to the U.S., though he has since switched to making the equipment for health care workers in his home area and for Nova Scotia Power. Once that is complete, he plans to ship some to Ontario and more to the U.S. He says they’ve printed about 350 so far.

“It is a lot of work, but it’s such a great learning experience for my son,” Harding said.

Ruckus says he can produce about one mask every three hours and has given them to various front-line workers and hospitals in the Granite State and around New England.

“Dan has really gone the extra mile,” said Local 490 Business Manager Denis Beaudoin Sr.

Cozzo says he and his team have printed over 3,000 masks and close to 2,000 shields so far. Some have even been customized.

“Brother Cozzo has really stepped up to the plate. He and his volunteers have done a tremendous amount of work and all for the safety of the community,” said Local 134 Business Manager Don Finn. “Brothers and sisters, this is what organized labor is all about. We not only take care of our own but more importantly, we make community’s better.”

The three members are all donating their masks. Ruckus and Cozzo have set up GoFundMe pages to help with costs.