Most 3D print companies are doing their part to help in the crisis, and MakerOS is doing something a little different.
MakerOS provides a cloud-based platform for managing 3D print and other maker work. They can handle orders, communications, invoicing and much more. They focus on 3D printing, CNC machining, product design and engineering. Currently they have a large number of clients, typically small- to medium-sized operations, using MakerOS and thus participating in their network.
One unique feature they offer is something called “Overflow”. The idea is to balance workload between network participants.
For example, let’s say you are a medium-sized workshop and suddenly receive a big order. That’s great news, but what if you don’t have capacity to get it all done by the deadline? Normally you’re screwed and may even have to decline the job.
But MakerOS’ overflow system can help out. MakerOS has certified a number of their network members to participate as an “overflow” for extra work. Thus in the above scenario the company could simply dispatch a portion of the excess work to the overflow network where a certified maker can take on the work if they have capacity available.
This is a fantastic feature and would be incredibly useful for a small company that’s growing fast. It doesn’t eliminate the need to expand production capacity, but it instead allows a company to smooth out the expense of additional equipment until the incremental jobs are sufficient to justify a purchase.
Makers Against COVID
Now MakerOS has re-purposed their overflow network to address the crisis. They say:
“The Overflow network is currently being utilized solely for Makers Against COVID, an on-demand distributed fabrication network to connect businesses with fabricators.”
“Organizations can connect with vetted fabricators and 3D printing companies to request bulk orders of equipment to protect against COVID-19. Equipment includes personal protective equipment (PPE) such as face shields or masks, necessary parts for ventilators and respirators, and contactless door openers.”
This could be quite useful for healthcare organizations in the US, where centralized distribution of equipment is uncommon and many organizations are on their own to obtain equipment. These days their typical suppliers are a bit swamped, so a new option like Makers Against COVID could be just what’s required.
Of particular interest are non-hospital-based organizations, such as senior living, where there has been less focus for assistance and residents are at risk. These organizations can require PPE as much as hospitals but they may be prioritized lower by suppliers. However, they can simply order what they need through Makers Against COVID.
One such organization that took advantage of the new service has been a senior housing community in southeast Michigan, where nursing director Katrina Aleck said:
“We had a great need for face shields, and a lot of the vendors were out at this time. With your [Makers Against COVID] help, we were able to get face shields that are very durable and effective, and we got them in a timely manner, so we’re very happy with that.”
If you know of an organization having trouble securing a supply of PPE, you might suggest they try Makers Against COVID.