The worldwide pandemic caused by the coronavirus (COVID-19) was an opportunity for Nallely Lomelí, Alejandra Banda, and Carlos Illsley to join forces in order to make 3D-printed face shields and masks for health workers during the crisis.
Their project, NABAWA, is supported through donations that people can make by contacting them via Direct Messages sent to their Instagram account. Those interested in doing so receive a form and the account number to which they can make deposits. For every 50 pesos contributed, they donate a face shield and a three-layer cotton face mask.
“I think the idea came out of a fear about the response that we as a country would be able to give due to our limited resources. None of us had a 3D printer, but someone lent us one,” said Carlos Illsley in an interview.
Nallely, Alejandra, and Carlos knew each other because they’d worked on the Ambassadors of Tec de Monterrey project in previous years and knew that their profiles would complement each other when starting the project. Alejandra had studied a bachelor’s degree in Animation and Digital Art; Carlos had completed a degree in Biomedical Engineering; and Nallely will finish her degree in Mechanical Engineering in May.
On Wednesday, they donated 1,000 kits of face shields and masks to doctors, nurses, and social workers at five different hospitals after nearly two weeks of work on printing.
The trio of young people can print 7 face shields per minute. (Courtesy)
“Next, we’re going to work with the Toledo Foundation to give people more confidence. Doing this through a Civil Association gives them an incentive because everything’s formalized and they can get invoices if necessary,” said Banda.
Currently, NABAWA is working with five 3D printers and two sewing machines. They’re also working against the clock due to the time the printing process takes while the number of people infected and dying is rising every day in Mexico.
“Doing a project under normal conditions is difficult but doing it during a pandemic is three times harder. However, we’re much more motivated to resolve the problems that come up in less time,” said Lomelí.
A team of laboratory technicians from Tec de Monterrey helped them do plastic injection in order to increase their capacity for face shield production from ten pieces per day to seven pieces per minute.
“Availability of resources is something very difficult to plan for in a pandemic, as it’s more difficult to move things around and we have to ensure we have a full inventory to cover demand,” she added.
The entrepreneurs say that once the pandemic is over, they hope to expand the business and look for new lines to help more people.