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A Makerspace's Rapid Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic

A Case Study of Open Works in Baltimore, Maryland

The Study

This descriptive case study examines the launch, operation, and outcomes of Makers Unite, a
collaborative emergency PPE production project spearheaded by Open Works, a 34,000 square
feet makerspace in Baltimore, Maryland. Open Works was able to use institutional trust, community collaboration, and Lean Manufacturing practices to produce 28,270 face shields in 56 days, averaging a production rate of 496 per day. The project included six full-time staff members, five temporary part-time staff members, a network of 388 volunteers and their printers, and two partner organizations until its conclusion on June 12, 2020. The study reveals best practices for establishing Lean small-scale manufacturing, developing institutional trust, building community collaboration, and developing a more agile supply chain in healthcare equipment production and other sectors of the economy.

Our Team

The project team included participants from industry, maker  leadership, and academia. Trans-disciplinary analysis contributed to the value received from diverse perspectives.  

Our Method

Data was collected from journalistic media, social media, documentation, website content, meeting observations, and key person interviews to establishing a chain of evidence from the research questions through to the case study conclusions 

Our Results

Results are presented in a report format for use by practitioners, policymakers, researchers, students, entrepreneurs, and other stakeholders in all sectors of the social and economic landscape.

Key Questions
  • What is the role of trust in organizing a response to the inability to meet critical product demand during a healthcare crisis?
  • How are Lean Manufacturing principles applied in a makerspace in response to a critical product shortage during a healthcare crisis?
  • What practices lead to greater supply chain agility during a healthcare crisis?
  • What crisis response practices facilitate makerspace integration with the existing and emerging manufacturing sector?
Key Findings

Trust-Inspired Volunteerism

Values-Inspired Mobilization

Lean Manufacturing and Supply Chain Agility

  • 28,270 total face shields produced

  • 17,454 headbands printed by volunteers

  • 27,931 bottom reinforcements printed by volunteers

  • 45,385 parts total printed by volunteers

  • 12,000 CNC plastic headbands produced at Open Works

  • 56 working days

  • Avg. 496 produced per day

  • 98 total clients

  • 560 face shields distributed to protesters and protest medics

  • 388 total volunteer printers

Supporting Material

Literature Review


Case Notes

Coming Soon

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