A few years ago, when they were students at Ridgefield High School, Alfston Thomas and Alex Scheck worked on several 3-D printing projects involving drones, including one designed to keep track of open spaces in parking lots.

Although Thomas and Scheck are now college students attending different schools, they have stayed friends and maintained their interest in 3-D printing. So when Thomas began reading articles about the shortage of medical equipment due to COVID-19 demands, he got in touch with Scheck.

“I was trying to think of ways we could help, and I know Alex has a couple of [3-D] printers,” Thomas said. “We found some open-source files online about making face shields and decided we wanted to impact Ridgefield, specifically.”

An electrical engineering student at Virginia Tech, Scheck is now printing part of the face shield (the visor) at the off-campus apartment he shares with roommates in Blacksburg, Va. He then attaches the other pieces, including the plastic shield, and ships the products to Thomas, a finance/computer science student at Northeastern who is home in Ridgefield.

Thomas is applying the final touches and delivering the completed face shields to the Laurel Ridge Health Care Center in Ridgefield. As of Tuesday afternoon, five shields had been donated to Laurel Ridge and nine more were en route to Thomas for upcoming delivery.

In order to reach their goal of producing and donating 1,000 face shields, Thomas and Scheck have created a Go Fund Me page (support-ppe-for-ridgefielders) to raise money for materials such as filament for printers, sheets of clear plastic, and elastic head straps.

By Wednesday morning, Thomas and Scheck had surpassed their goal of raising $2,000. Some of the additional money might be used toward the purchase of extra 3-D printers.

“One print takes about three-and-a-half hours,” Scheck said. “I can do four to five per day on one printer.”

Thomas has ordered a 3-D printer so that he can begin helping Scheck with the production.

“We’re trying to increase capacity,” Scheck said. “That would allow us to ramp up production.”

“We want to donate face shields to Danbury Hospital, as well as Laurel Ridge and some individuals who have requested them,” Thomas said.

Along with the face shields, Scheck has been printing mask adjusters that medical personnel can use for the masks they wear under the shields. “Three of those take about an hour and 40 minutes,” he said. “I am doing about 50 per day.”

Thomas and Scheck are also planning to use circuit boards to design baby monitors that will allow nurses to interact with isolated patients.

“They are requested,” Thomas said about the monitors. “The nurses need a way to communicate with patients without going into the room. Every time they go into the room they have to put on PPE (personal protective equipment) and then discard it, so the monitors can help for routine communication.”