Airdrie Public Library teams up with artist to 3-D print PPE

Story by Stacie Gaetz


Photos by iStock

The Airdrie Public Library (APL) has teamed up with a local artist to produce more than 1,000 ear savers and over 50 face shields for local health care workers and seniors’ homes.

“Part of being a community hub is collaborating with service groups and individuals,” said Wyatt Tremblay, communications coordinator with APL.

“It just made sense to do this rather than having the printers sitting here unused.”

Local artist Rayvin Maddock contacted the library in mid-March after hearing about organizations in Calgary that were printing Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) with 3-D printers.

For Maddock, the desire to help was personal. Last year, at the age of 31, she underwent treatment for aggressive breast cancer.

“My world was much the same as everyone else’s is now with COVID,” she said

“It was like my practice run. I was immunocompromised so even the common flu would have meant I could get very sick or die. Having been through that, I understand the fear that people may be experiencing right now.“

She said at the time, she wore masks out in public and gloves and had to wash and sanitize often.

“I also have much gratitude for the doctors, nurses and medical staff who got me through,” she added.

“I wanted to do something to help protect them in the event of a shortage and protect those who might be most at risk, having been in their shoes only a year ago and having friends currently in cancer treatment as well.”

Maddock owns a 3-D printer that she uses for her art, but it was not one that could be used to print PPE. She said she knew the library was closed and had the correct printer so, she reached out to see if they would be willing to lend it to her.

In her search, Maddock used social media to find some resources and decided to create the Facebook page Airdrie Makers Covid Hub to show where resources could be found and help coordinate efforts.

Maddock is now printing the plastic head piece for the face shields and ear savers – to help protect the back of the ears from sores due to elastics on masks – from her home using the library’s printer.

The equipment is being used at Airdrie Urgent Care, the seniors’ homes in Airdrie, the Peter Lougheed Centre, EMS, and various other places that have identified needs via the Facebook page.

The library is also using a second printer to create ear savers that are being used at Airdrie Urgent Care.

In addition, Maddock is making bias tape jigs for the Mask Makers YYC group so that they can make bias ties (the ties that keep the masks on) faster and more efficiently for their 11,000-plus orders. She has made over 50 bias tape jigs and is planning to make more.

“I would like people to know that they can help too,” said Maddock.

“It doesn’t take a special kind of person to make a difference. You don’t need a 3D printer or a special degree. Making a difference only takes the desire and will. More than ever, we need people to care right now. We will get through this together and if we do it right, we will be stronger and better than ever.”

To view a video of the library’s 3-D printer making ear savers, click here.