Home » Emerging Lane | Community Workshop Is Making a Difference in COVID-19 Battle

Emerging Lane | Community Workshop Is Making a Difference in COVID-19 Battle

Kre8Now’s goal of bringing creativity to life is now helping save lives

By Matt Wickstrom

3D printers at Kre8Now Makerspace are being used to make face shields for health care providers and others needing personal protective equipment.

In the midst of a move from south-central Lexington to the city’s east side, membership-based community workshop Kre8Now Makerspace is using its innovative and cutting-edge tools to help produce critical personal protective equipment (PPE) for health care workers fighting COVID-19.

Jumping into action at the onset of the virus-related shutdowns, the makers at Kre8Now Makerspace have worked around the clock to produce face shields, sewn masks and ear-relief straps to reduce the strain from wearing masks for extended periods of time, while preparing to move across town by the end of May.

According to Kre8Now Makerspace’s Executive Director Michael Kreisle, the shop has produced over 2,000 face shields and ear-relief straps each, along with over 1,000 sewn face masks that have gone to Baptist Health Lexington and various doctors, nurses and health care workers who’ve inquired with Makerspace about getting equipment. The face shields and ear-relief straps were crafted using the Makerspace’s brigade of laser cutters and 3D printers, while the face masks were made with traditional sewing machines.

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Makerspace project team members also are collaborating on an air-assist open source ventilator that uses a machine to regulate breaths for a patient in place of a person doing it manually, which helps limit frontline health care workers’ exposure to COVID-19.

While producing the PPE, Kre8Now Makerspace members are diligent in following proper social distancing protocols. They limit entry to essential services and have canceled all scheduled workshops and weekly open house nights for the foreseeable future as the COVID-19 pandemic unfolds.

There are hand sanitizer stations at each entrance and team members wipe down and sanitize all surfaces after completing work. Since Makerspace’s nonessential use policy was implemented, Kreisle says there have never been more than five people in the building. Due to job losses and other fallout from the economic standstill, Makerspace membership is down 20%.

“We’ve had to move quickly to implement proper social distancing practices and limit those coming in to only essential work or projects relevant to battling COVID-19 —such as producing PPE—and our makers have done a great job at meeting the challenge,” Kreisle said.

Aside from the tools used to craft PPE, Makerspace provides its members access to CNC router and plasma tables, welding equipment and a metal and wood shop. Kre8Now Makerspace partner David Helmers says all of the tools at their disposal are a means to bring each team member’s creative visions to life.

“The ingenuity of our Makers is at the heart of what we do here,” Helmers said. “When faced with a problem—whether it be a home repair, car repair, producing PPE or something entirely different—they come here to fix it themselves rather than seeking out someone else.”

First founded by Doug Clarke in 2014 and housed in Lexington’s Distillery District, Kre8Now Makerspace will move into its third home at 305 Codell Drive by May’s end. The new 8,200-s.f. space is nearly 1,000 s.f. smaller than the current home on Simpson Avenue, but provides a much more open floor plan. The main room features towering windows letting in a sea of sunlight and is overlooked by a mezzanine that also offers co-working space. According to Kriesle, the new Makerspace will also host events once those are again deemed safe and appropriate.

The new Makerspace includes expanded conference and meeting space, a new podcasting studio, an isolated woodshop and seven temperature-controlled licensee spaces for members to operate in and store supplies.

Kre8Now Makerspace offers three membership levels, with a new “co-working” level membership to be announced soon. Present membership levels are: Students – $45 per month, General – $75 per month, and Family – $95 per month.

For more information visit Kre8Now.com.