FUSE Makerspace Builds and Distributes PPE for Frontline Healthcare Workers

woman with mask cuts plexiglass boxes on CNC machine

Apr 15, 2020

If you build it, they will use it. That’s what CNM’s FUSE Makerspace quickly found out as the COVID-19 pandemic started.

While the space is currently unable to offer its regular in-person classes, FUSE has transitioned all of its equipment and resources over to building, cleaning, and distributing personal protective equipment (PPE) that’s being shipped to COVID-19 healthcare works in every corner of the state.

Currently, FUSE Director Dena Thomas-Aouassou is partnering with Alice Shriver of 505 Access and Tanda Headrick of VanGuard Technology to create a pipeline that will provide hundreds of plastic face shields to healthcare workers at Prebyterian Healthcare Services each week. Alice and Tanda set up the partnership with Presbyterian and then worked with Salteydogg Metal Fab here in Albuquerque to cut the shields. Dena then turned the entire FUSE computer lab into a space where the shields can be cleaned and packaged.
Dena was also contacted by the Air Force Research Lab (AFRL), which has partnered with New Mexico Tech to run the nmcovid19.org website where designers and manufacturers can reach out to donate their services or medical supplies. Via that partnership and website, Dena and the FUSE Makerspace will be holding a curbside donation event this Friday where anyone in Albuquerque or the surrounding area is encouraged to drop off their own 3D-printed face shields or the materials needed to make them.

The list goes on. Sheri Crider, who runs the Sanitary Tortilla Factory art space, has been hard at work producing something called an intubation box. The square boxes, which were first developed by a doctor in Taiwan, are made of plexiglass and fit over a patient’s head with holes for a doctor’s arms to reach through. They’re used as another layer of protection for doctors who are intubating a patient, or in other terms, inserting a plastic tube into a patient’s trachea to help keep their airways open—a process that’s done when someone needs to be put on a ventilator.

Sheri took her first box to Lovelace Health System here in Albuquerque where doctors used it and immediately ordered 12 more. Since the first batch, she and a crew of volunteers from a group called New Mexico Craft Responders have made more that have gone everywhere from Roswell to Zuni.
“It’s been amazing,” Sheri says. “I was painting pictures and making furniture when this all started and now I feel great being able to help. It’s really meaningful to be able to make an object that has tangible benefits to workers who need it most.”

Finally, Justin Spane with Albuquerque Fire Rescue recently dropped off a roll of polyurethane plastic along with CNC router files that Dena and others at  FUSE  will use to produce protective plastic gowns for healthcare workers. Once the process is streamlined, Dena hopes to produce more than 500 gowns each week.

“We’ve been very, very busy,” Dena says. “But we’re excited to help because this is a community health need that affects all of us.”

This article was originally published on cnm.edu.

Featured Member: Marco Rivera Jewelry

Marco Rivera – Marco Rivera Jewelry

Tell us a little bit about what you’re making:
“Right now I’m at the cusp of starting my jewelry company, Marco Rivera Jewelry. I focus on jewelry where I do a combination of handcrafted and 3-dimensional design jewelry so I use CAD programs like Fusion 360 to print out pieces to cast them. I do a lot of casting. I started in the [CNM] jewelry program so I am finishing the program there; this is my last semester. After this year I’ll be a full jeweler with a certificate and everything. I was working at the jewelry studio as a work-study for like a year and that just gave me a lot more opportunity to focus on jewelry. I never thought I would be a jeweler or be interested in it but now it’s like music and jewelry are my passion.”

What brought you into FUSE?
“I’m a musician, first before everything so I found out there was someone making guitars at FUSE. That’s what really brought me in, gave me interest, and gave me the idea of FUSE. I saw it on CNM’s website that someone was making a guitar but I still have yet to make a guitar. Hopefully someday soon, a double neck. My ideals are go big or go home.”

What was the most valuable thing to you here?
“I think the most valuable thing for me personally is the opportunity to learn how to use all this equipment. I wouldn’t have the opportunity to learn how to cast, how to laser cut, to use a shopbot, or 3D print if I wasn’t at FUSE. If I didn’t have FUSE I would probably be focusing on music and not creating or making things. That’s one of my passions, making things, and I’m very self-sufficient. I like to make things, I like to build things but I’ve never had the opportunity to grow that skill. Just taking one class at FUSE allowed me to get that taste of it and it still is bringing me back for more. I hope I get to a point where I can get a business membership so I can be there all the time, I love this place.”

What advice would you give to someone who might be considering joining/might be considering FUSE?
“I always recommend people to take a CNM jewelry course because you get to spend time in FUSE for a long amount of time with also getting credit for a class. You get a membership, you get a taste of FUSE, and you get to be there for a whole semester rather than just a week or a month. So taking a CNM class that is focused at FUSE or taking a FUSE class that you’re really interested in or know stuff about. Like a woodshop class if you like furniture making so you know how to use the materials and when you’re a member you can start working right away because you’re cleared on the equipment.”

What were the biggest things you learned?
“I’ve always been an entrepreneur at heart but one of the biggest lessons that are still bubbling in my mind, it hasn’t fully come to a realization yet, is the idea of just entrepreneurship and community. I know FUSE has a big thing with supporting entrepreneurs, a lot of businesses use their facility to create products. This guy Ben works with a medical company making medical mirrors and no one would know that they’re making it out of FUSE. KIN Collective comes in and makes out of FUSE. It’s a lot of people with the community coming in and building things and a lot of entrepreneurs coming in and building things. There’s always going to be that interaction between the two. So the biggest thing learned is leaning towards finding the balance between community engagement and being an entrepreneur. Not just being an entrepreneur only for the money or for supporting yourself but being able to interact with the people around you and help each other learn or make a product that’s helpful to other people.”

What were some complete failures/successes you ran into?
“I always had a fear of failing but with FUSE you can see on the walls failure is an option here is one of the big quotes. When I first started at FUSE I was taking a jewelry class that I didn’t really do well in at the beginning and then I started participating more like coming to studio hours. I just started to enjoy the space a lot because I found out about FUSE from guitar making and I wanted to do that. I started to fail a lot when I first started there and then I learned so much from what I failed from. I failed with 3D printed and I always learned from it so that’s the one big thing I learned was to not be afraid of failure at FUSE but not be content with that.”
“ At FUSE I learn things that I can use in the future. Juan taught me how to make a jig for my jewelry boxes so I can engrave stuff and in the future, I can do that on anything. I could even do that on metal pieces if I wanted to and I learned that just by doing it and it was not even a class, in an hour he taught me how to do this.”

What’s your favorite tool?
“My favorite tool is the J2R casting machine.”

How do you see yourself or your business growing?
“I’ve been really thinking about my growth in business these past two months. I am getting more serious about it. I can see myself growing a large jewelry business. I do want to be able to make a self-sufficient business that I can design for or hire employees in the future. Have retail space, have a workshop and not only use FUSE.”

What is your proudest moment as a maker?
“Right now I’m very proud that I’m going to be having my first solo show coming up. That is the first step in my business. I’m really proud to be taking a step in this direction.”
Anything else you’d like us to highlight?
“One thing I would like to recognize is that even though I’m a jeweler I am kind of a renaissance man. I’m a DJ part-time, a musician, I work with my mom at weddings she’s a harpist. I helped create her website. She’s been the biggest supporter of me and I love her. albuquerqueharpist.com.”

Featured Member(s): The KIN Collective

The KIN Collective – Owen Schwab, Michael Slavich, Lizzy Wilson
KIN Collective is a community artist group based in Albuquerque, NM and are best known as the hosts of the Arty Party. Though many members had been collaborating together for years, the group organized as a collective last August. Since then, they have been working to find ways to make art accessible to everyone and to forge connections amongst different facets of the community. The collective is comprised of fifteen local artists, ten are working on their current project, and five are FUSE Makerspace members. Their latest endeavor is CUCKOO BEEST, a large scale roadrunner performance piece for SOMOS 2019. CUCKOO BEEST will be paraded through the event with puppeteers in costumes. It is made out of metal, recycled fabric and materials. During the day it is meant to serve as an icon of New Mexico and our community, at night it transforms into a psychedelic spectacle of light. We sat down with a few members and asked them some questions, here’s what they said:
Tell us a little bit about what you’re making.
“Imagine a giant Roadrunner roaming the streets, singing, dancing, and getting trippy during the night. It will be a grand undertaking and a spectacle of light and psychedelic movement.”
What brought you into FUSE?
“It was the only space that could facilitate our project, not the only but the best. We also knew Dena, Dana, and Manny.”
What was the most valuable thing to you here?
“The people here. The staff has been beneficial and helpful. Shared knowledge and the willingness to share knowledge. Manny offering to help with any insight.”
What does your process look like?
“Concept, sketching, technical sketching into 3D modeling into pricing and ordering then into fabrication. Then when in fabrication figuring things out as you work.”
What advice would you give to someone who might be considering joining/might be considering FUSE?
“Don’t be afraid of the price. Even though it’s a substantial startup price it is worth it in the end because you get access to everything.”
What were the biggest things you learned?
“I know everything.”
What were some complete failures/successes you ran into?
“The welding has been going well.”
What’s your favorite tool?
“The welder.”
How do you see yourself or your business growing? Where would you like to be in the next 5 years?
“We’re primarily artists whose mediums aren’t necessarily large scale or permanent or something you need a workspace to keep in. We want to have a deeper commitment to building, leaning more towards installation than object art.”
What is your proudest moment as a maker?
“When things line up the way they’re supposed to.”
Be sure to check out CUCKOO BEEST by the KIN Collective and at SOMOS 2019 on September 28th. You can donate to their project on kickstarter.