Makers talk about creating PPE for healthcare workers during COVID

Originally published at: Makers talk about creating PPE for healthcare workers during COVID | Boing Boing


Thank the Maker.



This seems to be a recurring thought process that really needs to be abandoned.

I’m old enough to remember people thinking that things like the internet (I mean, what could you possibly use that for) were going to be a temporary fad.

There always seems to be a mindset of “this is just a fad/lark/it’s all yoda whistles and penisaurus rex figurines”. That is until someone else figures out how to do something amazing with it.

I guess the question was a step in that direction, but imho still a bit dismissive and “let someone else do it”…


I remember when healthcare workers wore PPE.

Gappy surgical masks are what most HCWs seem to wear in clinical patient-contact settings now.

Never mind that the virus is now acknowledged to be airborne (I mean, we always knew, but now it’s official) and is 10x more transmissible than the 2019-era strain. Why does infection control always have to be such a tough sell in the medical community? Heck, we’re still fighting for consistent handwashing, and its been, what, a couple centuries now?


What? Where?!? I do not want to go there.

Also: go, makers! Fuck, yeah!


When I first encountered real-life 3D printing in the early 2000s it was a (one-woman) company who was intending to produce shoes that were exactly based on 3D scans of the wearer’s feet, she had prototyped and had finally been able to produce using two varieties of plastic that clipped together to be both comfortable and hardwearing. I do not remember the name of the company but was hugely impressed by the possibilities.

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What I am looking most forward to is being able to get a 3D scan of my body done at a central downtown location and then being able to send that data to different online stores so I can get clothing made that actually fits perfectly. We’ve had the technology for decades, I don’t understand why one of the big players hasn’t implemented it yet


Using this kind of technology could bring shoppers back to high streets too, a scan and then a selection of ready-made available in-store, allied with a tailor-made (or tailored-to-fit) service, should overhaul some of the clothing retail wastage.


Imagine a world where nobody wore ill-fitting clothing!


Well the main reason is that tailored clothing is expensive. Clothes are so cheap right now because they are made at massive, massive scale.

There are services like you describe though. I get a lot of my clothing from eShakti, who does what you describe, without the laser scanner. You have to take a handful of measurements that any child can do, but then anything you order from them is made to fit you.

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Yeah, I have gotten custom* shirts and suits from those sorts of places as well and I’m happy with their services. But they are still relatively niche and you do have to take a few measurements. And as you say: they’re expensive compared to mass market clothes (yet cheap compared to true tailored clothing).

What I am envisioning is a mass market version of that. I don’t see how, with computerized measuring, cutting and inventory management, custom clothing has to be more expensive than the mass market stuff they do now.

* I say “custom” and not “bespoke” because the former obviously doesn’t approach the work of a true tailor who works with you in person to get you exactly what you want and to get the fit exactly right

My understanding (take this with a grain of salt- I’m not in the industry) is that large sections of clothing manufacture are necessarily still manual labour. Like, T-shirts are still all sewn by hand, and they are the simplest garment we have. That makes me think what you describe may not yet be possible, since we’d need more end-to-end automation. I think what we have now with services like eShakti may be as far as it is currently possible to go (again, sans laser scanning). The patterns are computer generated and CNC cut, but then the sewing all still has to be done by hand, and it costs more to have each person sew a custom pattern handed to them rather than the same one all day. Again, this is all speculation on my part.

Regarding the scanning, I also wonder if it wouldn’t add anything over, say, going to a tailor and having them measure you for a small fee. Clothing doesn’t need the precision of lasers and 3D models to fit well, but if eShakti opened kiosks in the mall where a trained teenager measured you and put you in the system, that would be (I think) what you’re hoping for?

I should caveat this and say too that not everything I buy from eShakti fits perfectly. Clothing is difficult, and even with all the measurements perfect, a particular fabric may drape weirdly on your frame or whatnot. All the technology in the world won’t solve that. Tailoring is art, not science.

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