Natasha Dzurny is the founder of TechnoChic, a site selling ‘Tech-Craft Kits’ and providing resources, inspiration and supplies for crafters to explore technology and techies to explore craft. But when the Covid-19 crisis hit, Dzurny immediately decided to switch gears. Today the Jersey City, New Jersey-based entrepreneur has created a design for an easy-to-make face shield with the goal to empower anyone to be able to make one for themselves.
Dzurny’s story, as told to The Story Exchange 1,000+ Stories Project:
When I saw that our medical workers were facing a shortage of face shields, I looked at my inventory of headbands from my craft kits and thought “I can easily make a face shield with these!” Our local hospital told us that they were having to re-use “one-time-use” shields and they were deteriorating quickly. I looked for materials that could be completely sanitized and re-used. My design also includes an optional cover for over the top of the head and tourniquet bands as the elastic.
Because my design uses only everyday materials and tools like headbands and zip ties, it means that anyone can make one for themselves. I’m offering the files and tutorials for free on my website. I hope these designs are helpful to support your community too, whether you are making one for yourself or many to donate to your local hospital.
I think the definition of success during a time of crisis is a bit different. It’s pretty basic – try to be helpful and not hurtful. If even one less person has to go through COVID-19 because of a face shield prevented transmission of the virus than that is a success. So the key was to make a design quickly and get them in the hands of people who need them.
I was lucky that the video of my first prototype went viral on YouTube, getting over 1 million views. One commenter gave me the best compliment – she called me the “Female McGuyver of the Pandemic!” She was a pharmacist who was not issued PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) at her job but felt that she was on the front lines because she provides sick patients with medicine every day, and was happy to be able to make a face shield to protect herself. After finalizing my design, I made official tutorials and templates that will enable anyone to make a shield from scratch.
The tutorials include where to get the materials, templates to download, step-by-step building instructions, and links to resources from the CDC about how to use and clean them properly. I am proud to have released such a comprehensive tutorial that makes face shields accessible to anyone, and empowers people to make their own personal protection.
My biggest challenge was designing a medically useful piece of personal protective equipment quickly while making sure that my design was as close to professionally produced PPE as possible. As a designer, I am accustomed to an iterative design process that takes time and careful consideration, but there wasn’t time for that. I feverishly researched professionally made face shields and aligned my design with them, got involved in international organizations for making PPE, looked at designs made by other DIY groups (especially those with 3D printers), researched the materials I was using to be sure they were safe, and enlisted local nurses and EMT workers to test the designs and give me feedback. I balanced comfort, durability, access to materials, and ease of manufacturing. With the help of a team of local volunteers, we were able to start donating face shields the first week of April when our local hospitals and COVID-19 testing centers needed PPE the most.