As a special effects artist, Eddie Yang is best known for making Iron Man’s suit using 3D printing technology. He’s used latex, rubber and digital technology to make masks and creatures, but now he’s making the most important mask of his career.
He’s making medical face shields and masks for healthcare workers who need the equipment on the frontline of the coronavirus pandemic.
Like many, Yang found himself in a powerless situation, watching as coronavirus swept the world. “I wanted to do something to help,” Yang says from his studio in Chatsworth, California.
Yang had the network, but not the means for distribution. On hearing about his initiative, healthcare industry worker, Lisa Yen contacted him. Her charities Renew Church LA and Project 614 helped financially back the facial shield project. “She knew what people needed,” he says.
Yang started to source materials to make facial shields, but came up against material shortage — in particular, PETG .02-grade plastic. “Every sheet of that clear plastic was out,” Yang explained.
He eventually found a distributor and bought the entire stock of plastic so he could build the shields. Yen also helped Yang get design approval from professionals. He says, “I didn’t want to make something that was going to go to waste. But Lisa helped me get a design approved by physicians in the ER.”
Within four days, Yang had his assembly line ready for the facial shields. Special effects artist Sally Ray (“Looper”), a master in laser cutting, was called on by Yang to help cut the plastic.
Yang’s initiative has led to volunteers from across Los Angeles calling him, wanting to help build the masks. Once the shields have been assembled, drivers deliver them back to Yen who distributes them to hospitals.
“Right now, they are currently in eight hospitals,” Yang says. “People on the frontline feel less cared for, so when they receive these, it’s a way of paying them back.”
Yang equates the process to World War II and Rosie the Riveter, “Everyone is doing something because they want to be involved,” he says.
As of now, Yang and his team of volunteers have made 1,400 face shields. “We don’t know how many we will need to make, nor for how long,” he says.
The only thing Yang is confident of is that these masks are the most important job of his life, and they’re making a difference.
Donations to help with supplies can be made here: Renew Church LA