3D shields and fun activities for children: altruism in the times of coronavirus

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3D shields and fun activities for children: altruism in the times of coronavirus

By
5 May 2020

By | 5 May 2020

From single individuals to groups of volunteers, we are facing the COVID-19 challenges together. Be it the protection of medics, taking care of children or even businesses, here are a few examples of how people from Kiwi.com stepped in and offered a helping hand to the ones in need 

The heartbeat of once-bustling cities has dropped to almost unnoticeable levels. Parties, festivals, and social gatherings have become a sole memory, and many of us find ourselves in a state of expecting the unexpected. While some have let fear and anxiety of the coronavirus to tie them up, others have decided to face the challenge.

From single individuals to groups of volunteers or even large corporations, there are people from all corners of the world who have decided to contribute in the best way possible — to help others in need. The people of Kiwi.com prove they are no different and offer help whenever it might be needed.

When the government fails to protect, volunteers come up with solutions

Prusa developed their own type of protective plastic shield, got it approved by the Czech Ministry of Health, and started printing and delivering them to the medics Group Created with Sketch. Prusa developed their own type of protective plastic shield, got it approved by the Czech Ministry of Health, and started printing and delivering them to the medics — Jiri ‘Tashi’ Vondracek / Shutterstock

In November last year, Kiwi.com’s FinTech Lead David Petrović was looking for a new hobby. Having a background in mechanical engineering, he decided to immerse himself in the adventures of machinery yet again and unveiled the liberating perks of 3D printing. “It’s just super handy to be able to print anything you might need, even if it is a simple plastic hanger for your towel,” David says. Little did he know that his new passion could save lives.

As in virtually any other country in the world, once the new coronavirus outbreak started in Kiwi.com’s home country — the Czech Republic — the local medical staff quickly realized how unprepared they are in terms of protective equipment supplies. Proper respirators that would save them from the infection were scarce, and so were adequate face masks or disinfection. 

That was when David found out about a project launched by a Czech 3D-printing entrepreneur, Prusa Design. The world-renowned company quickly understood that the government’s response to the lack of medical protection would be neither fast nor sufficient. For this reason, Prusa developed their own type of protective plastic shield, got it approved by the Czech Ministry of Health, and started printing and delivering them to the medics. 

As the worldwide community of 3D-printing enthusiasts is rather keen and efficient, the company made the design files of the proplastic shields available for anyone willing to get involved. And people all around the world quickly jumped in with their own printers.

“I didn’t really think whether to take part or not; I just knew I wanted to help. I have friends among people from the medical sector, and I realized how dangerous the lack of proper equipment was. 3D printing requires experience and skill. I had managed to acquire some, so I started printing immediately,” David explains why he didn’t hesitate to do his part. 

“The medics were genuinely rejoicing”

He started to cooperate with a large community and joined one of the local units in Brno, Czech Republic. In their operation, each part was focusing on different steps of the shield production process. Some groups were acquiring material, some were printing various parts of the shields, and others took care of the transportation to the medical staff. 

The medical staff appreciated the first batch of the newly printed shields the group delivered: “They were genuinely rejoicing. It assured me that what we were doing was meaningful,” David adds. 

Over the span of two weeks, David managed to print 250 headbands and optimize the production to the level that it only needed half the amount of time (about 30 minutes per headband) and less than half the amount of material. He used 10 kilograms of material for which he paid mostly out of his own pocket.

“I found the lack of equipment absurd, and I knew I might help”

Similarly to David, Kiwi.com’s Senior Backend Developer Michal Valoušek finds 3D printing a great pastime activity that he shares with his son. With a different approach, he decided to take part in the production of Prusa Design’s plastic shields as well. But instead of focusing on creating a single part of the item, he was printing and assembling the whole final product. 

“When I first found out about the Prusa Design plastic shields, I decided to give it a try myself. I reached out to my friend who is a general practitioner and asked about her situation. What she described was really horrible. They were provided with only two face masks in total by the government. As a matter of coincidence, she was just ordering some shields online for an unbelievable price of nearly $100 each.  

“I found the lack of adequate equipment absurd, and the price on the Internet was unbelievable. I figured that the actual production cost is around $2. That kicked in my motivation. I thought that with my skills, I might help them.

“I gave my friend some of the shields I printed, and she was so happy with the product that she spread the word and I had more doctors and organizations asking me to provide them with one as well. In total, I was approached by around 70 people.”

However, while David’s biggest problem was the lack of material which he resolved by the reduction of weight of the final product, Michal struggled with the amount of time needed for the printing process. In the beginning, he was able to print two shields in six hours. 

To speed up the process, he got together a group of other 3D-printing enthusiasts and organizations. Over the span of ten days, he and six other individuals and institutions managed to print around 320 plastic shields. They gave 90 pieces to the medical staff of the hospital of his home town, 85 to general practitioners in his county, 50 shields to a local charity, 25 to the intensive care unit of a neonatal department, and 65 to the pediatric clinic.

In comparison, the whole region to which his home town belongs received 420 plastic shields in total from the local government. 

Keeping the children active

But 3D printing of valuable medical equipment is not the only way Michal Valoušek has tried to ease the impact of the current crisis. 

Every two years, he helps to organize a set of challenging tasks on an online platform for a youth tourist association that has around 10,000 members across the Czech Republic. During the challenge called Hořcová výzva, the participants need to complete daily tasks for which they receive points, badges, and even prizes. Being set for a tourist organization, the tasks are usually related to outside activities.

This year, with the fact that schools have been closed and outside activities have been restricted, the organizers faced a different challenge. They wanted to keep the children active, but had to align the activities with the current measures. So they have come up with a list of all sorts of tasks that are manageable at home. 

The tasks include creative games such as a “home trip for one day” in which participants have to pack a bag with items they would need for a field trip. They have to spend the whole day at home using only the items they had packed. They cannot use chairs, beds, or even electricity to pass the challenge. 

This way, the organizers want to keep the children active and entertained despite the fact that a majority of usual activities are restricted. 

Helping businesses to stay alive

But it is not only health that is paying its toll during the current coronavirus crisis. With the economy being halted almost everywhere in the world, businesses of all kinds are facing situations nobody could have previously imagined. 

As this crisis is unprecedented, many managers and business owners wonder how to approach it. That’s why Kiwi.com’s UX Designer David Jambor has decided to take part in a project called Spolupracuje.me (loosely translated as We cooperate) that offers help to businesses and entrepreneurs affected by the COVID-19 outbreak. 

On the platform created in participation with Prague’s University of Economics and Mentedy project that David helped to create and manage, professionals from fields such as marketing, consulting, leadership, or human resources offer their help entirely for free. 

“There have been quite a lot of cases of people seeking help in this unfortunate situation. Mostly, people were asking for consultation regarding marketing activities. But also, there were a few people requesting advice regarding leadership and communication. Some of them simply wanted to know how to communicate the situation to their employees, to protect them as well as their business as a whole. 

“We are glad to see that our free solution has already helped many. Together on our platform, we are trying to help and connect the ones in need, simply to keep our economy alive.”

Everybody does their bit

The current coronavirus outbreak has caused a situation no one had thought possible. Be it sewing face masks, grocery shopping for the vulnerable, or even 3D printing of plastic shields for the medical personnel; humanity has again proven that during times like these, we can work together, help each other, and undergo the trying situation united.