A Houston BP employee is one of many in the US oil capital that is using 3D printing technology to print personal protective equipment like masks and face shields for the fight against Covid-19.
Ricky Burns, business transformation team lead for the UK supermajor in the US Gulf and Canada, said in a video that he began tinkering with 3D printing technology a few years ago and wanted to pitch in to help out in the crisis.
"Everyone in the community is going to get affected by Covid-19 some way or another," Burns said in the video shot from his garage as a 3D printer went to work in the background.
"It's affecting some people from a health standpoint, but everybody from a mental health standpoint."
Burns is able to print about 10 to 20 of the face shields per day, he said, and has been working with other oil and gas companies and other equipment makers across Houston.
Overall, the effort has led to the donation of some 21,000 units. They've also included the "Houston Strong" logo -- a slogan born out of Hurricane Harvey in 2017 -- to help continue supporting first responders and medical staff.
Burns set the 3D printer running, saying that after about 3.5 hours the machine would print all the parts needed to make an N99 respirator mask. The 20 or so pieces are then snapped together and secured with a little hot glue to make sure the parts are fully air-sealed.
The plans are open-source and thus accessible to anyone, Burns said.
"It's pretty great to see a community come together in a pandemic or a crisis such as this, working with colleagues across BP, that are connected to other groups across the nation that have developed the respirator mask design and are getting that FDA-approved.
"It's really impressive."