I never thought I could be part of a movement that might save someone’s life.
My love of 3D printing started in 2013 when I built my first printer from scraps of wood, skateboard bearings and aluminium angles. It started as a personal challenge to build a printer, then to get that device to print parts to create a new printer. During this time, 3D printers weren’t readily available and, after doing five home-built printers, I finally bought my first one in 2015. The more I fiddled and built the more I realised the potential of 3D printing.
As the technology grew and machines became more available, a community of fellow printing enthusiasts grew. Inspired, inquisitive, creative people that share ideas, assist in troubleshooting, actively develop new technology, produce amazing designs and provide an invaluable resource to all things 3D printing. It’s an open community sharing everything they made, everything they did. And as time went by, more people loved it and got involved. Today, there is a massive community across the world. Its is a tight community and we’re very protective of what we do. That created a sense of caring for each other.
The arrival of the coronavirus has seen the 3D printing community want to step forward collectively with a common goal: what can we do to help? South Africa has unique challenges with regard to the outbreak of COVID-19 and, if there is a way that 3D printing can collectively help anyone – the frontline’s unsung heroes such as doctors, nurses, emergency personnel, the community, vulnerable people – we need to help.
The response and support from the 3D printing community has been so humbling. Everyone has said they will share their expertise, their time, filament and skills to print whatever is needed for our nation.
Together we can make devices for a lower-risk level that allow certified resources to be freed up for the heroes. And that’s what we promote.
During this time, it is vital that the frontline informs us about what their current needs are so we can assist where we can. We have set up a 3D community website with suggestions on how anyone with a 3D printer can help, share ideas, provide support and communicate exactly what is needed. This will allow for a coordinated effort that will ensure that we can help as effectively as we can. I also provide regular updates on production and distribution here.
But in the end, all I can ask is that you try to make a difference and we thank you for it.
Written by: Michael Scholtz, 3D Printer