Plan C: Chicago Shield Part 4 – Binge-making with Dan Meyer

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Plan C: Chicago Shield Part 4 – Binge-making with Dan Meyer

Dan Meyer manages the Fab Lab at the Museum of Science and Industry. He is a manufacturing technologist with a degree in manufacturing technology from Illinois Institute of technology, which is now called Illinois Tech.  e started in 1991 working in his family’s Foundry on the South side of Chicago, which was started by his great, great grandfather.

Read more articles about Plan C: What makers are doing to combat Covid-19



After an hour of talking to Dan Meyer from the makeshift lab he set up on the first floor of his high-rise apartment building, I realized that this crisis had released everything that was pent up in Dan.  All the energy, emotion and exasperation of many years brought him to this moment and he found himself alone in a room with 20 printers, utilizing all he had learned and acting on everything he believed. COVID-19 had him burning hot. For a self-described hacker and scifi fan, the future had arrived.

He got to this point after two weeks of negotiation with his employer to haul 3D printers out of the dark place that was his Fab Lab.  He began printing face shields, improving the prints and then came up with the Chicago Shield that could be printed on small 3D printer and then baked to be expanded to a larger size.  He posted his design to Thingiverse. He figured out how to print Chicago Shields in a stack so the printers could run continuously for 9-hours at a time. He began delivering his prints to Jackie Moore on the South Side.

Every collaborative effort depends on the willingness of individuals to take action — not to talk about it or wait for others to set it up for them but to just do something, do anything, and do everything you can. Without it, nothing really happens. While many others were binge-watching Netflix, Dan was binge-making, all along figuring out how to make things better.  Dan is an exemplar Maker. He’s created a mold out of which other makers could be made. 

It’s best if you hear directly from Dan himself and feel his enthusiasm, burning very hot.

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“I like making things,” Dan told me. “I like optimizing and computerizing and CAD and all of that. It just runs through my whole life.”  The combination of rapid prototyping and design for manufacturing is extremely powerful, he said, which he traces back to Neil Gershenfeld and the Fab Lab Network out of MIT.  

“You look at the world,” he said. “And you think, how can the objects, the people, the institutions, and the computers around me be used to help?”

Other parts in this series:

  1. Introduction
  2. A Mesh Network for Making Face Shields
  3. The Solin Flatpack Face Shield
  4. Who’s Not in the Network
  5. Binge-making with Dan Meyer
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DALE DOUGHERTY is the leading advocate of the Maker Movement. He founded Make: Magazine 2005, which first used the term “makers” to describe people who enjoyed “hands-on” work and play. He started Maker Faire in the San Francisco Bay Area in 2006, and this event has spread to nearly 200 locations in 40 countries, with over 1.5M attendees annually. He is President of Make:Community, which produces Make: and Maker Faire.

In 2011 Dougherty was honored at the White House as a “Champion of Change” through an initiative that honors Americans who are “doing extraordinary things in their communities to out-innovate, out-educate and out-build the rest of the world.” At the 2014 White House Maker Faire he was introduced by President Obama as an American innovator making significant contributions to the fields of education and business. He believes that the Maker Movement has the potential to transform the educational experience of students and introduce them to the practice of innovation through play and tinkering.

Dougherty is the author of “Free to Make: How the Maker Movement Is Changing our Jobs, Schools and Minds” with Adriane Conrad. He is co-author of "Maker City: A Practical Guide for Reinventing American Cities" with Peter Hirshberg and Marcia Kadanoff.

View more articles by Dale Dougherty