3D Printer

A 3D printer being used to manufacturer face shields.

As mask shortages continue to plague Tennessee hospitals and first responders and with the state’s own health department suggesting doctors use mask alternatives such as diapers and motorcycle helmets, two Spring Hill residents have spearheaded an effort to mass produce face shields for medical staff using 3D printing technology.

The effort is the first extension of C19 Liberators: a Gallatin charity organization launched on March 31 to help fill the shortage in mask supply by using 3D printers. As of Wednesday, the group has already manufactured more than 800 face shields, delivering 773 of them to medical staff and first responders.

Face Shield

One of the face shields produced by C19 Liberators being used by a first responder.

Last week, C19 accepted an order from a Franklin medical facility for 400 face shields, a tall order for an organization with just a handful of people.

As fate would have it, Spring Hill resident Jen Tucker had reached out to C19 Liberators last week and expressed a desire to help their efforts after hearing of them in the news. Members of the organization had said they were already wanting to expand their operations, and thus, the Spring Hill and Franklin chapter of C19 Liberators was born.

Tucker quickly recruited another Spring Hill resident, Katrina Beckham, to handle social media marketing, logistics, assembly and delivery, after which the pair officially launched the Spring Hill and Franklin chapter of the organization on Monday.

Both Tucker and Beckham have close ties to the medical community and first responders, with Beckham saying the coronavirus pandemic has created a moment when people “need to come together and help.”

“We wanted to help - this is a time where we all need to come together and help as much as we can,” Beckham said.

“[Tucker] has ties to the medical community, she has worked in radiology and worked for a company who does software for radiologists, and she's got a lot of friends that are in the medical community, and I do as well. I'm the daughter of a first responder; my dad was a firefighter when I was younger, [and] I know that these people are putting their safety on the line every day they go to work. We've both had a desire to help, and when she asked for my help, I jumped at it.”

face shield parts

Head bands for future face shields produced by C19 Liberators.

As of Wednesday, the local chapter of C19 Liberators has three 3D printers up and running, with two more on the way. All 3D printers are owned by every day residents who have volunteered their time and property to help in the efforts to serve local doctors, nurses and first responders.

Even with a generous start, Beckham said they are still in need of more printers.

“We need as many [3D printers] as we can get so that we can get as many of these [face shields] done and delivered for our first responders and medical staff in our local area,” Beckham said. “They've been running low on everything, so we're trying to find as many printers as we can.”

Beckham also said the group was in need of volunteers for assembly and delivery - all processes that have been adapted to a coronavirus world. 

After a face shield is printed, Beckham said the materials would be left on the volunteer’s front porch, ready for a second volunteer to pick it up - something Beckham called a “contactless pickup,” as to adhere to proper social distancing. Assembling the masks once the materials are printed was another task ripe for volunteer work.

“This is something that my husband and I can help with while we're at home [too], while we're sheltering in place,” Beckham said. “We can do something to help and feel like we are helping those who have to be out in this, and have to be putting themselves at risk.”

Residents who would like to help C19 Liberators’ efforts, whether it be as a printer, volunteer or financial supporter, are encouraged to reach out to organizers by clicking here. Additionally, more information about the Spring Hill and Franklin chapter of C19 Liberators can be found on the group’s Facebook page.