About five years ago, he picked up 3D printing to support his cosplay hobby, creating pieces such as helmets.
“One printer turned into two printers turned into three printers and so on. It’s kind of a slippery slope,” he says with a laugh.
Eventually, the Coconut Creek resident started his own toy company HOPToys (which fittingly stands for High on Plastic). He now uses the 3D printers to create toy prototypes of the other-worldly creatures in classic sci-fi films such as 1956’s Earth Vs. The Flying Saucers and 1953’s Robot Monster.
Unfortunately, with factory work for his company stalled in China because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Doell found himself at a standstill—until a friend called him and told him about a Facebook group called Print the Curve Flat. Started by a Disney seamstress and a planner for pop culture-themed events, the group unites people with 3D printers around the country to donate their time to create personal protective equipment for hospitals low on supplies. Hospitals all over the country are putting requests for the group, Doell says.
He had the ability and the printers, so Doell got to work. He starts by loading a 3D model of a faceshield headband onto his computer. He then loads the 3D printer with thin plastic filaments of PLA and PETG plastics, which he says hold up against sterilization. The shield itself is made of plastic transparency sheets, which he punches holes into and snaps onto the headbands. It takes about 40 minutes to make two shields.
“We usually do 50 at a time,” Doell says. “I’ve got my kids helping because they’re home from school, so they’ll help me pop the faceshields onto the headbands.”
So far, he’s donated more than 200 face shields to Broward Health North in Coral Springs and West Boca Medical Center’s Emergency Center in Coconut Creek. And he’s getting ready to donate 100 more.
In addition to making the face shields, Doell and his wife sewed masks for one of her coworkers who cleans hospitals and needed masks. The extra time spent helping others has resulted in life lessons for his 12-year-old twins, who Doell says are excited to help.
“You see somebody that’s in need of help or somebody needs a hand—if you’re able to do it, then, why not?” he says. “That’s kind of how we live here.”
Doell notes that companies that make 3D printing filament are being affected by the pandemic. Anyone looking to donate PLA filament, transparency sheets, quarter-inch nylon elastics or other useful materials can contact Doell at [email protected].