Getting Started

Here we will give you an overview of what steps you’ll need to follow to begin producing and supplying PPE to your front line workers:

  1. Get a core team together
  2. Start sourcing resources
  3. Agree on a common goal
  4. Decide on a brand
  5. Set up a private Facebook group
  6. Find a suitable venue
  7. Build a public website
  8. Build a private website
  9. Reach out to front line facilities
  10. Start recruiting makers
  11. Start recruiting volunteers
  12. Launch the website
  13. Start a crowd funding page
  14. Set up social media accounts
  15. Start your factory days
  16. Fulfilling orders

1. Get a core team together

Later on you’ll have the opportunity to bring more volunteers on board, but if things go according to plan, things are going to grow quickly and you’ll want one or two other people you can rely on to help out.

You’ll need at least one core member who is very proficient in 3D printing but ideally 2 or 3 of you should at the very least understand it and have done a good amount of printing themselves.

To get your core group together, if you have friends who you think would be suitable, speak to them and see if they can spare the time (this will likely require several hours a day, every day, possibly akin to a 40 hour working week if not more to begin with). If you don’t know anyone personally who you think would be suitable, the next step is to approach local 3D printing facebook groups, find out who is in your area and work out who would be most professional and knowledgable.

It’s also very important to make sure they are someone you will work well with as when things get busy, you don’t want your core colleagues to be making life difficult for you.

For now you are just looking for 2-3 people but eventually you will need at least enough people to fulfil every one of these key roles.

2. Start sourcing resources

You have a few more stages before you’ll be using these resources, but it may take a while to actually get hold of them so it’s best to start ordering now. The most important things you will require are:

  • PLA 1.75mm 3D printer filament (As much as you can get hold of)
    • Check 3D printing websites, Amazon, ebay, wherever you can get it
  • A4 acetate sheets (ideally a minimum of 240 microns thick; as many as you can get hold of)
    • Office supply shops, amazon, local businesses may also donate this
  • Alcohol (80% or higher)
    • Try contacting local distilleries, explaining what you are doing you may be able to get a deal on alcohol from them

3. Agree on a common goal

Between your core members, agree what it is you are trying to do.

We insist that anyone using our package agrees to not charge for any PPE which they are producing. The goal of HTP International is to help other people around the world bring PPE to their front line workers for free.

However, you should get an idea of the size of area you are happy to cater for, how much time each of you can put into it, and decide on a hierarchy. Even if you don’t have a single overall ‘manager’, it is important that you have someone to be the primary authority on each area of the organisation, even if decisions are always discussed as a group.

4. Decide on a brand

Whilst we at Hack The pandemic are offering this free package to help you set up your own free PPE service, please do not name your group Hack The Pandemic, Hack the Pandemic International, or HTP.

There are many reasons for this, but one is that we have built up a very good relationship with the healthcare industry in our area and this is largely down to the quality and service we have offered. As we will not be involved in the running of your own operation, and therefore have no control over how it is managed, we can’t allow ourselves to be associated with it.

This will help ensure that every group that surfaces as a result of HTP International won’t be affected if another one of the groups receives negative press. It will also allow you to better tailor the brand of the group to your own country and locale.

So the things you need to decide on here are:

  • A name (Something short and/or highly memorable)
  • A full size logo (with a written name included)
  • An image only logo

5. Set up a private Facebook group

Facebook can be a great tool for organising people. Whilst we don’t advise you use Facebook for organising your team itself, it’s a great place for your recruited makers and volunteers to be able to come to help each other and pose questions.

Having this support network in place early on can help reduce the amount of support you will have to supply directly and can alleviate some of the workload that will be coming your way later on.

Make sure your group is set to private so that you can control who has access to it. This way you can only approve people who have applied via your website (this comes later).

6. Find a suitable venue

When things take off, you’re going to require a premises that is big enough to allow a number of people to operate whilst social distancing. This place will also ideally have a commercial kitchen setup, but that is note essential.

We at HTP are using a village hall which features several large rooms and a commercial kitchen.

Find somewhere suitable, contact the manager and explain what it is you are planning to do. Hopefully they will offer you the property for free and then you can move forwards. It may be that where you live you aren’t able to find somewhere that will offer their property for free but hopefully at least they can offer you a heavy discount (we will come back to funding later)

7. Build a public website

To best manage orders and volunteer applications, building a simple website is the way to go.

There are now many ways to set up a website for very little money and very simply even if you aren’t an expert in web-design.

We’ve put together a more detailed description of how you can do this here, but you want your public website to feature:

  • A description of who you are and what your goal is
  • An application form for people to sign up as a maker or volunteer
  • An application form for people to apply for PPE
  • A contact form for people to get in touch
  • Ideally you will also want to set up a number of email addresses with your domain name. You’ll want a genera one such as contact@YourGroupName.com, then you’ll want one for each core member such as josh@YourGroupName.com

Don’t share your website publicly yet!

8. Set up a private website

In addition to the public website, we strongly recommend setting up a private website to manage your members operation.

We have also put together a description on how we recommend you do this, here, but your private website will primarily be used for:

  • A single place they can go to download the 3D printable files (STLS), as well as disclaimers and assembly instructions
  • A form for members who have finished printing parts to request them to be collected
  • Instructions for 3D printing settings etc
  • Any other services or information you think your members will regularly require

This website should be password protected so that only approved volunteers can access it

9. Reach out to front line facilities

Depending on where you live, some medical services are being careful about what PPE they take on. At this stage it would be good to prepare some testing units of the PPE (ensuring you follow the sanitation process described on the factory workflow page) and begin speaking to your local facilities who you hope to supply with your PPE.

Explain to them who you are, what you are doing and give them an idea of the workflow you are following to ensure the PPE is of high quality and clean. They may want to take one or two of your test units to inspect their end which is why we suggest you start this now.

10. Start recruiting makers

Now your websites are up and running, it’s time to start recruiting makers on-mass.

Start by going to all the 3D printing Facebook groups, asking anyone in your area who has a 3D printer to sign up via your website and join you in producing PPE.

As things expand and once you are actively distributing PPE you can start a more widespread reach for other makers but as you aren’t yet ready to start sending PPE out, you don’t want people finding your website and putting in orders for PPE yet.

11. Start recruiting volunteers

You are going to eventually require 2 types of volunteers, drivers and factory volunteers.

Drivers will be people with cars who are happy to collect printed parts from your makers and bring them in on factory days.

Factory volunteers will be able to commit one or two days a week to come to the property you have secured to help with the quality control, cleaning and packing of your PPE

The best place to start here (after you’ve asked if your makers are also happy to do any of this) is to post on local general community Facebook groups and forums.

12. Launch the public website

It’s time to launch the public website and begin getting requests for PPE.

Share your website everywhere you possibly can. Local community groups, friends, family, contact newspapers, local TV channels, the lot!

Get the word out there!

13. Start a crowdfunding page

Whilst you aren’t charging for the PPE you’re making, it is still costing you to make it, so you are going to need to raise funds to cover your costs.

The best way to do that is to set up an online crowd funding page that anyone can donate to. Make sure you link to this page via your website so people can find it, then share the page as much as possible.

You should make it absolutely clear that you are not making any profit from what you are doing, and that all funds left in the pot at the end of the pandemic will be donated to charity. It is vital that no-one profiteers from what you are doing here!

14. Set up social media accounts

Set up a Facebook page and a twitter account to help generate more awareness of your group. You can post regular updates on how things are going, requests for volunteers and donations, and of course spread the word so that people that need the PPE can find you.

15. Start your factory days

You will now have everything you need to get going so you should be starting your factory days, collecting the printed parts, checking them for quality, cleaning them and packing them for distribution.

Please see our Factory Workflow page for more details

Fulfilling orders

Now everything is up and running you’ll be fulfilling orders.

We recommend that when people are requesting PPE on your website, you give them 2 options, to have the PPE delivered to them by one of your volunteers, or for them to collect it from you on your factory days.

For more details on how we suggest you fulfil orders, please see our Factory Workflow page