KENILWORTH, NJ – As the number of coronavirus cases soar in New Jersey, and the shortage of masks continues, Kenilworth native Michael LaMonaco started making his own face shields to donate in response to the global pandemic.

LaMonaco told his story to TAPinto Kenilworth how the whole project began. “A few days ago I started seeing news about the global PPE shortage that healthcare workers were facing everywhere. Then I started to see various 3D designs crop up on places like Reddit and 3D printing Facebook groups and how these everyday hobbyists were rising to the call of this shortage and using their tools and time to manufacture PPE on their 3D printers. I really just thought that I will probably never get another chance to meet all the criteria and have the very specific knowledge and equipment to be able to help out like this. I don't have a lot of money, so I can't donate or things like that but what I do have is a 3D Printer. I downloaded the files and got to work. I started making face masks but it became challenging as these need to meet very specific performance criteria, so I shifted into making these face shields which are widely accepted everywhere. My friend Tom Esmores has been facilitating the delivery of almost all of the donations since he has a lot of family and friends working at various hospitals in New York and New Jersey. He was even kind enough to purchase a second printer to maximize our output.”

So far LaMonaco has donated a total of 70 shields to Mt. Sinai, Beth Israel, St. Mary's, St. Joseph's, RWJ University Hospital, and the Union County Police Department. He started getting so many requests that he ran the numbers and realized there was not enough materials to make so many masks. LaMonaco then posted to the Kenilworth Facebook page and received a huge response from the community. “I couldn't even keep up with the messages I was getting and quickly received orders for laminate material for the shields and 3D printing filament which once delivered I will have enough to make over 1000 shields.”

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Each shield takes about a half-hour to print and LaMonaco donates them in batches of 10-20. “I just really wanted to do something in these really bizarre times we are going through and a project of this scale also helps me keep my mind occupied and focused on fighting this thing in one of the only ways I can possibly help since I am not a healthcare worker.”

LaMonaco is an electrical engineer and works for an aerospace and defense contractor. “I'm currently working with my company to see if we can start manufacturing the shields for donations across the country and have the capacity to possibly produce thousands a day if it goes to plan.”

At the moment LaMonaco has stopped taking donations because he is at the maximum capacity with only the two 3D printers. “I think what we are doing is helping even if it isn't a crazy amount. I also just want to spread the message that anyone who has a 3D printer or access to one can easily do the same, the designs we are using are available online and all open source.”

In his spare time LaMonaco loves to work on his hobbies which include 3D printing, woodworking, gaming, and cooking. He lives in a house in Kenilworth with his wife, and his parents are the owners of Micro Max Computers on the Boulevard.