3D Makers Help Swedish Staff During COVID-19 Crisis

When the going gets tough, the tough put their creativity and determination to work and help change the world. Richard Beien and his mom, Deborah Beien, of the Budlong Woods neighborhood in Chicago, are helping protect the staff at Swedish Hospital from COVID-19 exposure with their newly developed 3-D printed Facial Shield.

March 19th, while watching Rachel Maddow speak about a community mask drive at Massachusetts General Hospital, Deborah had an idea. Why not do something similar for her neighborhood hospital, Swedish Hospital?  She immediately called her son, Richie, who as Founder and Lead Engineer at Limitless Studios (a 3D engineering & manufacturing studio), enjoys a good challenge and helping others.  Richie immediately went to work looking for existing online face shield patterns, printing them out, making revisions, and refining the pattern. Deborah and Richie worked throughout the night and into the following morning, adding elastic, creating a shield from an old report cover and finally creating a prototype worthy of critique.

The next morning, they contacted Jennifer Blitz, Director of Development at Swedish Foundation, and a neighbor, to ask about the possibility of making them for the hospital staff. Jennifer contacted the hospital’s Chief Medical Officer and brought over the prototype for inspection. On Sunday morning, the medical team at Swedish gave the thumbs-up to the prototype and asked for the community’s help in producing them.  While Richie finalized the design, crafted instructions and specs that he would give out free to community members, he also reached out to 3D makers across Chicagoland for help in production.  Deborah created a Facebook page devoted to the project, “3D Printed Face Shields for Swedish” and posted on over 20 neighborhood Facebook pages encouraging members to spread the word and solicit donations of filament and elastic.

Jennifer, meanwhile, was busy sourcing plastic sheeting which could be used as the shield. After many failed attempts at office supply stores and online searches, she entered a Staples office supply store on Clark Street and found success.  General Manager, Peter Pekarek, understood what was needed and generously provided over 400 sheets of plastic, free for the project. As Peter commented, “If we can help keep your staff safe, then that is what we need to do. You tell me how many pieces you need, and I will make sure you have it”.

Richie and Deborah worked all Saturday night printing headgear sections, resetting the machine every 1.5 hours, and getting up in the middle of the night to keep printing. On Sunday morning, Richie and Deborah had 10 face shields ready for use, which were immediately delivered to the ED.  The Swedish medical staff were delighted with the masks and asked if more could be made by community members.

Four days later, Richie and Deborah had provided instructions to over 100 community members; from teachers and engineers, to elementary and high school students, retirees and fellow medical personnel. Responses to assist have come in from as far away as Florida and Califonia.

Over the past 4 days, Richie and Deborah have slept a total of 10 hours, but they’re happy to be useful in a crisis and delighted that Swedish can use their talents and skills. According to Deborah, “It makes me happy to know that I can help during this crisis. I really want to help those on the front lines, they need it, we can help, and the medical staff at Swedish deserve to feel protected”. When asked why Richie feel so passionate about this project, Richie responds, “I want to help; I was just sitting at home not really contributing but searching for ways that I could get involved. I’m always searching for ways to use 3D technology to help solve a problem. This was a perfect project, because with 3D printing you can respond very quickly with a product that can help keep people safe. I was happy to try and find a way to use my skills to help”

Update: As of April 15th, the 3D Printed Face Shields for Swedish Facebook page has over 500 members and the team has created and delivered over 6,200 face shields to health care professionals and front-line workers across Chicagoland.

From an idea to a community movement. When a community works together, wonderful things can happen. To view a photo gallery of our helpers and the face shields in action, please click here.

If you would like to join the 3D Makers community face shield drive, please visit, their Facebook page.

If you have new medical supplies you can donate, please click here

For more information about the Swedish Hospital Relief Fund, please click here  To learn more about Swedish Hospital Foundation, please click here, or call 773-293-5121.