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Yukon makerspace producing face shields as 'Plan C' for COVID-19 pandemic

Machines at YuKonstruct in Whitehorse are busy churning out a product its hoped won't be needed in the territory — protective face shields for first responders.

‘Best case scenario, we never have to use these,’ says director at YuKonstruct

'Best case scenario, we never have to use these,' said Rick Yorgason, director of YuKonstruct's Makespace, demonstrating one of the face shields he's made. (Wayne Vallevand/CBC)

Machines at a collaborative work space in Whitehorse are busy churning out a product that Rick Yorgason hopes won't actually be used.

YuKonstruct's Makespace is using 3D printers and a laser cutter to make protective face shields.

Yorgason, director of Makespace, said the face shields aren't medical grade, but could be "Plan C" if medical supplies fall short during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

"If we continue flattening the curve, then that will give the medical supply industry enough time to build more supplies. So, best case scenario, we never have to use these."

With a cover made of Plexiglas, the face shields can provide splatter protection and are worn far enough from the face that a medical mask could be worn underneath.

Yorgason said Makespace is part of a global movement producing equipment for the pandemic.

The makerspace has been using 3D printers and a laser cutter to make the face shields. (Wayne Vallevand/CBC)

"I think everybody has been wanting to find some way that they can help with the crisis," he said.

The design for the shields is open-sourced from Prusa, a large 3D printing company in the Czech Republic. Yorgason said the design was chosen because it was well-researched.

Prusa's website says it has printed and donated more than 12,000 shields and has requests for 90,000 more.

Yorgason said Makespace has enough materials to make about 100 face shields, using leftover Plexiglas as well as laminating pouches and binder covers for the shield. He said they are accepting donations of Plexiglas so they can make more. The materials for the band that's worn around the head cost about one dollar each.

Yorgason said Makespace is building a supply to donate in case frontline workers request them. Until then, the face shields are stored in individually-sealed bags, ready to go. 

The face shields are stored in individually-sealed bags, ready to go.  (Wayne Vallevand/CBC)

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