The world has been thrown into turmoil over the last few months, and there are a lot of people around the world who are staying at home much more often than usual. That said, we have some of the best creative minds in the costuming community, and we’re encouraging everyone who can to do whatever they can to help. To that end, we have gathered a number of resources for everyone to use.
First and foremost, working with local organizations is going to be critical to making sure your work doesn’t go to waste. Destin from Smarter Every Day is encouraging everyone to use a hashtag to connect with people in your area. The hashtag is #yourcityfightingcovid. An example would be #Orlandofightingcovid here in my area. There’s no reason this can’t work worldwide. There is also a website called Get Us PPE that is helping to connect people who have or are making personal protective equipment (PPE) to those who need it most. Donate PPE is currently covering the Bay Area, SoCal, NYC, and Boston. Donate Your PPE is operating in the United Kingdom. I did search for other options in Europe, but being in the United States gave me a lot of articles about donations already made and not a lot of help for me to find you some resources.
I will preface this list be saying to please check with local organizations before creating anything to donate. I don’t want anyone here wasting their time. That said, this is a pretty comprehensive list (I think) and I have enough options that everyone should be able to contribute, if you choose to.
First up is the face mask by Jennifer Maker. This mask can be made to be used on its own or it can be made as a cover for an N95 mask. We know of doctors and nurses who are having to reuse their masks, and the covers have been helping to make that protection last longer. We recommend Jennifer’s size medium if you want to make a cover.
This pattern was created by the Made Institute. For this mask, we have found that the size large works well for women, so we chose to enlarge the pattern by about 1/2″ all the way around for men. We also found the size small works well for children. We also extended the inner lining by 1/2 at the bottom so the liner pieces overlap and protect the filter.
Here’s the thing about materials. Cotton is a permeable fabric and tests have shown they only block 20%-60% of particulates. The Suay Sew Shop felt this was unacceptable, and set out to find the best way to protect people using cotton masks. They found the best option was to create your own filter using blue shop towels. The towels made by Toolbox and ZEP are most effective. You will need a double layer for the best protection, but they found that these two towels can block up to 93% of particulates as small as 0.3 microns. You can get both brands at most hardware stores. I chose the first result that popped up for me, but there were a whole bunch more. On the job research has also told us there are existing hospital materials that can be used as filters, as well, so your local hospitals should be able to put their own filters inside.
These masks are also going to need a way to fit it over your nose to get a good seal. We found that flat aluminum wire works best. We cut a length of about 2 inches and then filed the corners to make sure they weren’t sharp. The wire can be found in the jewelry section of craft stores, but make sure it’s the flat wire for the best fit.
The last issue here is straps. A lot of people are using elastic to fit around the ears, but healthcare workers are getting friction burns behind their ears, making it painful to wear that style of mask. So, like the pictures above, we have been using the elastic so it goes around the back of the head. There is also the option to make ties, instead. The ties can be made with the same fabric as the mask, or you can attach ribbons to be used as ties.
Shields and Masks
First, some basics. ABS, PETG, ASA, and industrial grade TPU filaments can be sterilized, so these are preferred. PLA is good for one time use. Some hospitals have also asked that you not use black when printing masks. When asked, the doctor we spoke to said that a healthcare worker with a black mask during a plague felt a little off, and they’d prefer not to go down that road. Since demand has gone sky high, they’re willing to take them if that’s all you can get your paws on. The linked filaments are simply what I found, and not necessarily required brands.
For the face shield itself, light projector acetate sheets work (and can briefly be seen in the linked video from Smarter Every Day above). Laminating sheets also work, but they need to be run through a laminating machine in order to make them clear.
Face Masks and Respirators
Copper 3D has designed a face mask that may require a bit more work to be able to use it more than once.
OESH has created what I think is one of the better respirators, but they’re more difficult to make. For this mask, you’ll need flexible TPE filament and, if you’re super fancy like OESH, they print with elastomeric pellets. The linked page has patterns for 3 sizes, the caps, inserts, and two sizes of straps.
There is also a call for CNC manufacturing and injection molding for those who can do it, but I don’t have any specifics for you on those.
If you can’t make masks or shields or can’t find anywhere local to donate, I have more options for you.
First, are touchless shopping cart handles. If your local supermarket is open to using these, they can be attached to the handle of the shopping cart (or buggy, if that’s what you call it) allowing it to be steered by the forearms instead of the hands.
I also found a door opener. You can offer these to local businesses, as well. They attach to the door so it can be pulled using the arm and not the hand.
That is everything I have as of today. If you have a pattern or recommendation you think we’re missing, tell us! We will continue to update this post for as long as we need to in order to make sure everyone has the best tools to help out in their communities.