• Ridge Michiels

Dorien and Tom print PPE

Dorien Van Bael, a student in literature and linguistics and her boyfriend Tom Meysen, support engineer at Cegeka

Tom: “I had been 3D printing for quite some time already. In fact, it had become a bit of a hobby for me. I once even 3D printed the game The Settlers of Catan because I hated the fact that the tiles didn’t stay in place.. Now they’re printed and they stick together thanks to the magnet in them! I think of 3D printing as a way of making things easier, it’s part of my life. When corona happened, I saw people online using their 3D printers to print face shields. I thought it was an excellent idea, which is why we started doing it ourselves.”

Dorien: “Tom creates a few prototypes for testing and reached out to some local nursing homes and hospitals. We were able to help people quickly as a result. But he felt that he could do more and better, which is why he posted a message on Facebook.”

Tom: “I published the post, went to sleep and woke up to find hundreds of messages in my inbox. Things got a little out of hand. I was printing anything from sixteen to twenty face shields a day by then. It was not enough to meet demand, which is why I started looking for other people in the region to help me. Currently there are five of us who are printing face shields. We have produced about six hundred of them to date.”

Dorien: “I’m working on my BA dissertation and studying, so it’s not as if I have nothing to do at the moment. But I free up some time to prepare parcels. We pack the face shields as a DIY kit in a bag. I always take maximum precautions when preparing the parcels: I wear a face mask, gloves… I also indicate the date on which the parcel was packed on the packaging and we ask people to disinfect the parts upon arrival in the accompanying instructions.”

Tom: “The printers are working day and night here. We spend all our free time producing face shields. Other people catch up on series or finally get to watch their favourite films, but no Netflix & chill for us!”

Dorien: “Everyone tries to manage in their own way. I miss my friends at UAntwerp. Some of them live on the other side of the country and I really miss seeing them. So we study together on Skype. It makes me feel less lonely.

I also think that it’s very important not to spend all your time at your desk. A walk now and then is definitely recommended, you need to continue to go out. On the other hand, the hay fever season is in full swing, which is a disaster for me. So I prefer to stay in my kot for now! Together we’ll ride this one out.”




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