Entrepreneurs around the state step up to fill need for medical equipment

Sul Huq, along with three other Des Moines-based entrepreneurs — Julien Duhautois, Tim Vastine and Camille Renee — are racing to get medical equipment ordered from overseas to medical workers as the coronavirus pandemic drains supplies around the country.

So far the group has rounded up a large amount of washable surgical gowns and KN95 masks that we can get delivered over the next few weeks.

“My family owns a government factory in Bangladesh that makes washable surgical gowns and we got started there,” said Huq. “They have a whole bunch of other factories they can work with right now because no one has business.”

Since starting the project, the group has began working with a factory in China to get masks ordered as well.

“It’s all been through word of mouth at this point. We just told a few people in hospitals and it took off from there,” said Huq. “Every single person in the medical space needs this stuff.”

Huq says he does not have an exact estimate date as for when supplies will arrive as it will largely depend on the number of medical supplies ordered.

Eastern Iowa group is 3D printing face shields for hospitals

Photo by Eric Engelmann.

Meanwhile, another group in Eastern Iowa—organized by Eric Engelmann of NewBoCo and others—has begun prototyping basic face shield designs that can be produced on 3D printers. 

The informal group began printing prototypes on 40 3D printers across the state on Sunday afternoon on Sunday afternoon, according to a Facebook post by Engelmann. Many of the printers being used were provided by the Cedar Rapids Community School District.

Yesterday, the group delivered six shields of three variants to a healthcare organization for feedback.

The work has been assisted through volunteer efforts by many in the community, and early donations of roughly $3,000, Engelmann told the Corridor Business Journal in an interview.

The group’s efforts come after late last week when the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, along with other hospitals around the state, put out a plea for donations of new or used protective face shields for its employees.


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