Phil Frankow of Vankleek Hill is trying to do his part to make sure there is enough personal protective equipment for health care workers in Prescott-Russell during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Recently, The Review shared a story of Frankow’s regular business, Eastern Ontario Drones Corporation. Emergency restrictions have those activities on hiatus right now, so Frankow has shifted his focus to 3D printing plastic parts for personal protective equipment such as masks, transparent face shields, and objects to reduce the pressure on ears from the elastic on masks.

Frankow is retired from IBM and built his first 3D printing machine several years ago using open source material.  He now has a Makerbot machine, and usually uses it for drone prototypes and replacement parts.

After developing prototype parts and sourcing instructions online, Frankow has developed the masks, face shields, and ear strain reducers for health care workers needing extra comfort around their ears after prolonged mask-wearing.  His mother, Diane Frankow, has been busy doing the sewing required for the surgical masks.

Products donated to UCPR Emergency Services

According to Frankow, the United Counties of Prescott and Russell Emergency Services Department and the Eastern Ontario Health Unit accepted about two dozen ear strain reducers.  He hoped that many of them were distributed to employees at Hawkesbury and District General Hospital to try.  He was also planning to have 20 surgical masks ready for the health unit by April 13.

Before they are distributed to the health unit, all materials Frankow manufactures are disinfected.

“The masks we are making have a built-in pocket that allows for extra filtration, and we are making two styles, the traditional reusable surgical-style cloth masks such as were used in the great wars, and 3D printed clips that support a wide variety of ad-hoc materials such as those found around the household,” Frankow said.

There are costs and resources associated with producing the protective equipment. At the beginning, Frankow was financing the effort himself, but he needs additional support to continue the project.  However, he emphasized that he does not want people to think that he is attempting to profit from making the equipment.

“I want to be clear that I am not profiting from this,” said Frankow. But he does need help to purchase supplies in order to continue production. He was encouraged by a donation of fabric from QuiltBees in Vankleek Hill recently. After contacting the store owner to inquire about purchasing fabric, he was surprised to receive a generous donation of fabric from the Main Street business.

“This support is so very much appreciated,” Frankow commented.

In addition to frontline workers and health care staff, he is also thinking ahead to staff in long-term care facilities and those working with the public during this time.

“I would hate to see any of our stores close due to an outbreak,” Frankow said, mentioning the grocery stores, pharmacies and other locations which are staying open through this time.

“That’s my plan — to help as many as I can,” Frankow said.

He has started a Go Fund Me campaign to raise money so that he can purchase more supplies and enlist people to assist with production.  Frankow’s goal is to raise $20,000.  To donate, go to https://www.gofundme.com/f/prescottrussell-covid19-ppe-for-the-front-line .  Frankow is hoping to donate half of the proceeds to UCPR Emergency Services and the other half will go towards his production needs.  The campaign page also includes additional information on the design and contents of the articles Frankow is making.  He is also interested in partnerships with other local organizations and businesses that wish to contribute or collaborate.

In order to ensure financial transparency, Frankow is hoping a third party professional such as an accountant comes forward to oversee the fundraising revenue.

Donations of materials

In addition to the funds for capital costs, Frankow is also accepting donations of specific new, unused materials that can be used for components of the equipment.  The following items are on the list:

  • Elastic bands, hairbands, or rolls of elastic strips such as used for sewing.
  • Clear sheets such as used for overhead projectors (minimum 8.5” x 11”)
  • Cotton or linen cloth (highest thread count possible)
  • Filter materials such as vacuum cleaner HEPA filters, basket coffee filters, etc.

He can provide patterns and instructions for anybody who wishes to help produce the cloth elements of the masks or assist with assembly.

Epson ink cartridges 127/126 for Workforce 630, or volunteers willing to print copies of instructions to be included in packaging.

Frankow said all volunteers will be recognized for their involvement. Through producing protective equipment locally, he is hoping to help lay the groundwork for fabrication that does not rely on global supply chains or just-in-time manufacturing.

“It is my belief that a cottage industry can be stimulated in the region that would provide technological skills, entrepreneurship, and employment growth,” said Frankow.

With his current manufacturing capacity, Frankow estimated that he could produce 16 to 20 traditional cloth masks per day, 30 to 40 clip mask assemblies per day, and six to 12 face shield assemblies per day.

For more information, contact Phil Frankow at Eastern Ontario Drones Corporation at 613-678-6195, or email [email protected]  .

SD & G Library also assists

Public libraries are closed right now, but staff at the Stormont, Dundas, and Glengarry counties public library system shifted their focus to making sure there is enough protective equipment for local health care workers.  They have been using the library’s 3D printing machines to make mask straps that reduce ear pressure, and face shields.  The mask straps have already been given to employees at Glengarry Memorial Hospital in Alexandria, and the face shields will be used if the hospital needs them.

A 3D printed face shield assembly. Submitted photo.