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SYFY WIRE cosplay

Cosplayers use 3-D printers to help healthcare workers on coronavirus frontlines

By Vanessa Armstrong
Print The Curve Flat

Many cosplayers own or have access to 3-D printers, a crucial piece of equipment for creating many of their costumes and props. With so many cons canceled or postponed because of the coronavirus pandemic, however, some cosplayers saw a chance to use their creative capabilities to help healthcare workers risking their lives to take care of others.

That’s where Print the Curve Flat comes in. The group was first started by Cynthia Kirkland, a Disney seamstress and cosplayer, and Haley Keim, who runs immersive events for the nerd/pop culture community via her companies, Damn Good Shindig and XLEVELENT. As the coronavirus pandemic got more dire, Haley’s sister, Amy — a physician’s assistant at George Washington University Hospital — shared with Haley the hardships she and her colleagues were facing. “Each day her updates became more and more heartbreaking about the dwindling supply of PPE [personal protective equipment],” Haley told SYFY WIRE. “A couple days later, one of her facilities told her they could only use one mask for the foreseeable future. Face shields were imperative to keep the masks usable longer.”

Haley, eager to put her nerd connections to good use, put out a call on Facebook to find others who could potentially help with fabricating more face shields. She immediately connected with Cynthia, and the two began looking at 3-D printing options. By March 25, Print the Curve Flat was in operation and sending out face shields to hospitals in need.

In less than two weeks since its founding, the group has grown to over 300 strong, and includes cosplayers from Florida to Portland. Members in the Tampa region alone, organized by cosplayer Jennifer Carter, have already delivered over 1,200 face shields to hospitals in need, and the group anticipates donating thousands more to healthcare facilities in the continental U.S. and Puerto Rico.

The healthcare workers who have already received the face guards are also appreciative of their efforts:  “Only five days after Haley kicked into action, our providers and nurses at two hospitals and a testing tent were donning these fantastic custom-made 3-D printed face shields,” Amy Keim, Haley’s sister and an emergency medical professional, told SYFY WIRE. “These face shields are helping to enable us to continue to care for our patients with a little less fear that we are doing so at the risk of our own lives. Not only are they chipping away at the PPE shortage, but their creativeness and generosity combined with their full-steam-ahead attitude is helping to ensure that health care providers stay protected, stay healthy, and keep the healthcare workforce strong.”

If you’re interested in supporting the group, there is a GoFundMe page where you can donate to help with their supply costs. If you're a healthcare worker who would like to request face shields for your own hospital or someone with a 3-D printer who wants to help, you can find out more information on each on their Facebook page.

Every little bit counts these days, and the fact that these shields come from such a group can bring a smile to an overworked and overstressed healthcare worker. “I have to say,” Amy recalls warmly, “when the ER staff found out that the people who made those face shields for them are a Disney seamstress and character actors, they just melted with appreciation.”