SA woman helps spark grassroots movement to donate 3D face shields to healthcare workers

Felisha Powell worked with USTA engineer Thuy Dinh, others to make free 3D face shields for San Antonio hospitals

How a SA woman helped spark grassroots movement to donate 3D face shields to healthcare workers
How a SA woman helped spark grassroots movement to donate 3D face shields to healthcare workers

SAN ANTONIO – With a shortage of medical equipment around the country and in San Antonio, Felisha Powell wanted to find a way to help and fortunately did not have to look far to fight the coronavirus pandemic.

Powell is a program coordinator at Hemisfair. The organization just received a grant from a generous donor to create a makerspace, and that included a 3D printer.

“I started noticing people were printing the face mask. And then I started to realize what the shortages were in terms of PPE and medical equipment,” said Powell. “I was like, what could I make that requires a little material, and it was the face shield.”

Powell and UTSA engineer Thuy Dinh joined the makers community and designers to provide personal protective shields to local healthcare facilities for free.

(Image provided by Felisha Powell.)

Part of that process included working with San Antonio 3D printing company, LS4 3D Printing, to design a customized frame for the shields.

“They donated all the designing time and then based on my feedback, and me going back and forth with them, we created the face shield frame that is re-useable. It’s made from material that can be sterilized,” said Powell.

Making the shields reusable was a major factor for the team. The designers went through multiple prototypes until they found the right one.

“Usually they are made with disposable foam and they have one use. These can be reused over and over again,” said Powell. “The material that we decided to use is PETG, which can be UV sterilized and autoclave so you can do about 50 uses in a hospital setting.”

Powell said they have donated over 400 reusable shields to major San Antonio Hospitals, urgent cares, private practices and more. She said over a dozen healthcare facilities have gratefully accepted donations.

(Image provided by Felisha Powell.)

It’s been a round-the-clock effort for Powell and the team. They continue to fill up bin after bin for hospitals, but what makes her proud, is that this has truly been a grassroots effort to get the face shields to those in need.

Every material, frame or money donated has gone back into making the shields for healthcare professionals on the front lines.

“I expected to you know just kind of feel a little need. It’s actually been very emotional,” said Powell. “I want to work as hard as they are doing for us. They’re protecting our parents, our friends, our co-workers.”

Anyone interested in more information can contact Felisha Powell via email.

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About the Authors:

RJ Marquez has been at KSAT since 2010. He's covered a variety of stories and events across the San Antonio area, and is the lead reporter for KSAT Explains. He also covers the Spurs for on-air and digital platforms. You can see RJ regularly on KSAT Explains and Good Morning San Antonio. He also writes a weekly Spurs newsletter.

Valerie Gomez is an Emmy-nominated video editor and San Antonio native. She is the lead editor for KSAT Explains and also loves Jeff Goldblum.