When Langley City truck driver Petko Ganachev got started making face shields and ear savers for medical front-line workers, he wasn’t expecting to create one of the biggest all-volunteer, not-for-profit efforts of it’s kind.
But when he made a call for people to help make and assemble the devices, he got a bigger response than the 10 to 15 people he was expecting.
“It started with one request at the end of March,” Ganachev told the Langley Advance Times.
It was a conversation on social media with a person whose partner worked in a care home and was hoping to find someone who could make face shields for staff at the home.
That led Ganachev, a 3D printing hobbyist, to launch a group to make face shields using 3D printers and donated laminating sheets provided by Staples.
Then, the group got into making ear savers, plastic straps that reduce chafing by medical mask straps.
As of mid-May, the B.C. Covid-19 3D Printing Group Ganachev started has grown to an estimated 600 volunteers in B.C., Alberta, and Ontario, who have so far made 10,000 face shields and 50,000 ear savers.
Ganachev suspects the non-profit initiative may have become one of the biggest of its kind in B.C. and Canada, possibly even the world.
And even at that scale, it is running hard to keep up with requests.
“We have 150,000 outstanding orders,” Ganachev estimated.
“There’s huge demand.”
Requests are coming in from across Canada and even the U.S.
The most distant location to inquire was in Tucson Arizona, from people Ganachev hopes to connect with U.S. makers rather than deal with cross-border shipping.
“Everyone working on this project has and will continue to do so completely on their own time, solely in the hopes that we can make a difference in the fight that we’re all unwilling participants in,” the GoFundMe message stated.
Donations of materials and cash can also be made through the group website at https://www.bcc3d.ca.
“We can make cash go very far because we’re working with industry partners to buy at cost,” Ganachev explained.
Partners and supporters include Coho Commissary, Cypress Solutions, LNG Studios, MG Chemicals, Pacific Bindery Services, Rain City Games, R&M Trade Laminating, Staples, and Vancouver Hack Space.