Throughout the world, essential workers like nurses and grocery store workers are receiving thanks for their service during the pandemic. In Texas, with the help of 3D printing technology, essential workers are getting a “thanks” they can hold onto forever.

Typically, ToyPrints, a nonprofit based in Austin, teaches kids all about 3D printing and design — a technology that transforms a digital design into a physical object — at summer camps. 

The COVID-19 pandemic has forced camps to close. However, it hasn’t stopped ToyPrints from teaching kids all about 3D printing while paying homage to essential workers in the process.

The group has launched an online program that allows kids to participate in designing and manufacturing 3D printed mask extenders and creative thank you gifts for essential workers. Under the program, kids are asked to draw a thank you gift, which the group then 3D prints and delivers to essential workers as a way to say “thanks” for their hard work and sacrifice.

Essential workers at Cedar Park Regional Hospitals, a hospital group in Cedar Park, Texas, was the first organization to receive 3D printed gifts from kids. 

“Our new virtual programming is centered around learning about 3D printing, 3D printing applications during the pandemic and, ultimately, designing a thank-you gift to be 3D-printed and delivered, along with 3D-printed mask strap extenders, to an essential workers group in the Austin area,” ToyPrints stated on its website. “When you hear ‘superhero,’ you might think about Wonder Woman, Superman or Black Panther. But, today there are tons of people putting their lives at risk so you can stay safe and live as much as normal life as possible, not only doctors, nurses, and firefighters, but also grocery workers, delivery drivers, construction workers, chefs, waiters, etc. They are today’s superheroes — Austin’s essential workers.”

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