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3D printing hobby helps healthcare workers during COVID-19

A 3D printer makes face shields.

A 3D printer begins to print a part of a face shield in Cabot, Arkansas, April 22, 2020. U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Scott Marshall, 19th Logistics Readiness Squadron mobility readiness spares packages NCO in charge, along with his wife, Angie, recently began using a 3D printer to create face shields, which they donate to health care workers at the 19th Medical Group and medical professionals in the local community. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Jayden Ford)

A man sits at a table with his finger holding down a strap.

U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Scott Marshall, 19th Logistics Readiness Squadron NCO in charge of mobility readiness spares packages, assembles a face shield in Cabot, Arkansas, April 22, 2020. Marshall, along with his wife, Angie, recently began creating face shields with a 3D printer, which they donate to healthcare workers at the 19th Medical Group and medical professionals in his local community. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Jayden Ford)

A hand puts together a 3D printed mask.

Angie Marshall, spouse of U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Scott Marshall, puts together a face shield in Cabot, Arkansas, April 22, 2020. The shields act as a vital layer of protection between healthcare workers and the patients they are attempting to treat to mitigate the potential spread of COVID-19. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Jayden Ford)

A woman punches holes in a pplatic sheet.

Angie Marshall, spouse of U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Scott Marshall, punches holes in a piece of plastic that will be used as a face shield in Cabot, Arkansas, April 22, 2020. The shields act as a vital layer of protection between healthcare workers and the patients they are attempting to treat to help mitigate the potential spread of COVID-19. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Jayden Ford)

A man puts filament into a 3D printer.

U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Scott Marshall, 19th Logistics Readiness Squadron NCO in charge of mobility readiness spares packages, loads filament into a 3D printer in Cabot, Arkansas, April 22, 2020. Now a member of multiple enthusiast groups, Marshall said 3D printing has always been a hobby of his — printing gadgets and figurines during his free time. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Jayden Ford)

A man sits behind a computer.

U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Scott Marshall, 19th Logistics Readiness Squadron NCO in charge of mobility readiness spares packages, looks at a model of a mask on his computer in Cabot, Arkansas, April 22, 2020. Now a member of multiple enthusiast groups, Marshall said 3D printing has been a hobby of his for a long time — printing gadgets and figurines during his free time. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Jayden Ford)

A man pulls a memory card out of a computer.

U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Scott Marshall, 19th Logistics Readiness Squadron NCO in charge of mobility readiness spares packages, removes a micro-SD card from his computer in Cabot, Arkansas, April 22, 2020. Marshall, along with his wife, Angie, recently began creating face shields with a 3D printer, which they donated to healthcare workers at the 19th Medical Group and medical professionals in the local community. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Jayden Ford)

LITTLE ROCK AIR FORCE BASE, Ark. -- On a quiet rainy day inside an ordinary house, the sounds of small motors hums through the air. A small machine in the corner moves with precision — applying hot melted plastic layer by layer. Slowly, the machine’s creation begins to grow and form into the final product.

U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Scott Marshall, 19th Logistics Readiness Squadron NCO in charge of mobility readiness spares packages, along with his wife, Angie, recently began creating face shields with a 3D printer. They donate the face shields to healthcare workers at the 19th Medical Group and medical professionals in the local community.

Now a member of multiple enthusiast groups, Marshall moved from printing gadgets and figurines to creating face shields with his 3D printer.

“I have a machine, so instead of printing these models and gadgets, I thought that I could help the community and try to do my part,” Marshall said. “I had a capability and there was a need, so I was just trying to use my capabilities to help support that need.”

In one of these enthusiasts groups arose discussion about the need for face shields. One man had the idea that if all members joined together to print them, they could help healthcare workers who are on the frontlines fighting the novel coronavirus.

“One of the printer makers asked the 3D printing community to come together and start making face shields because there was a mass shortage,” Marshall said. “They found that if we pooled our resources together as a team we could really make a difference.”

Marshall used social media to inquire with his local community to see if there was anyone in need of the personal protective equipment he intended to create.

“I put a message out on a local community social media page because there's hundreds of people on there,” Marshall said. “I actually got a lot of responses from some of the organizations such as dermatologists, optometrists, and dentists — people that are still in close quarters with others and still need to work. So I've been donating a lot of shields to those types of organizations.”

The shields act as a vital layer of protection between healthcare workers and the patients they are attempting to treat to help mitigate the potential spread of COVID-19.

“It's an essential extra layer of protection for the frontline healthcare workers and the other people who have to actually deal with COVID-19 firsthand,” Marshall said.

Marshall’s wife, Angie, has joined her husband making the face shields while also working from home.

“We watch the news together and see on social media that people are in need, and this is one way that we know we can help,” Angie said. “We've already been spending time together now that we are mostly working from home, and this just gives us a way to help others as a family.”

In the end, Marshall said he hopes that something he did as a hobby can be used to make a real difference in his community and to healthcare workers on the front lines.

“My end goal is to help the community,” Marshall said. “My wife and I are trying to get together with our community and make sure we all get through this pandemic — together.”

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