As the global pandemic continues, people throughout the DMV are coming together to do whatever they can to help front-line workers battle the coronavirus. Whether it’s sewing face masks or donating meals, there’s an urge during this time of need to use any skill you have for good.
Adam Zuckerman—a Crystal City-based entrepreneur and expert in future-facing technologies—gave into that desire in mid-March, when he decided to use his background, experience and resources to 3D-print materials for medical professionals from the comfort of his home, as part of the recently launched nonprofit Print to Protect.
The nonprofit started with Jonah Docter-Loeb, a senior at Georgetown Day School in Kensington, Maryland, who wanted to make a difference during the pandemic. Since its inception, over 90 people (and kids!) across the DMV have printed 100 materials a week via 3D technology, ranging from face shields to valves for ventilators.
In Zuckerman’s case, he’s been able to raise enough funding to purchase two 3D printers, which he has experience using through his former career at Discovery, Inc., to create the plastic base of face shields. And, when the global pandemic finally comes to an end, Zuckerman plans on donating the printers to local schools and organizations that need it.
“In times like this, you have to do what you can and it’s something I can set up; it will help people now and it will help people later,” says Zuckerman. “The machines run automatically so I can do this in my spare time … It’s complex and there’s hundreds and hundreds of settings to first get it running, but once you’re dialed in it’s more upkeep than anything.”
According to Print to Protect’s most recent data, as of Thursday, April 16, the group has produced nearly 3,000 pieces of medical equipment for professionals, donating to sites like INOVA Fairfax, Holy Cross and Children’s National. Zuckerman hopes to continue to add to that number, as he’s recently purchased a third, larger printer that will enable him to create even more face-shield bases a day.
While he increases efforts to help those on the front lines, Zuckerman also realizes the bigger picture of Print to Protect and other organizations that are coming together with innovative solutions during the global pandemic.
“It’s the unintended consequence of education,” says Zuckerman. “The more people who learn about things like this may get more interested in science, and that leads to other beneficial things down the road. That being said, this [3D-printing] is a band aid on a problem, not the long-term solution. It’s an excellent stopgap as we realize what’s going on to fix things and prepare for the future.”
For more profiles on NoVA residents making a difference in the local community, subscribe to our e-newsletters.