Kleinert Foundation Innovation Series: Manufacturing Face Shields with Better Block

Story by Hannah Rabalais. Photos courtesy of Better Block Foundation.

The Better Block Foundation is a nonprofit that educates, equips, and empowers communities and their leaders to reshape and reactivate built environments to promote the growth of healthy and vibrant neighborhoods. Better Block’s home base is in Bishop Arts, where they house their digital fabrication machines (3D printers, laser cutters, and CNC routers) to help build custom-designed elements that are easy to build by community members and are open source. But like many nonprofits in our community, Better Block has had to pivot and display just how adaptive and innovative their team is during the COVID-19 crisis.


Right now, the medical community and first responders are struggling to obtain the necessary protective equipment to help people on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic. Last week, Better Block shared on social media their idea to create 3D printed face shields, (directly inspired by the open-source plans by the team at The Good Mod in Portland), and the response has been incredible. It is inspiring to see the Dallas community and beyond come together to make this happen. 


During the first few days of production, Better Block was able to make 2,300 shields. With the plan to double that number this week, Better Block is in full production and employees have been brought out of furlough to help produce the face shields. With the help of Donors like United Way Dallas through North Texas Cares, Ashlee and Chris Kleinert, and 143 other donations, Better Block will be able to produce over 7,500 + face shields. 

Better Block is not alone in this work; they have inspired other people and organizations from Portland, Greensboro, New Zealand, Kenya, and other makers from around the world to use their tools and resources to help create protective face shields. It’s incredible that one organization in Dallas can have a global impact. 

Better Block is calling all makers with a CNC router to help make these face shields and provides a free step-by-step guide on their website for those interested. You may find the guide here: https://www.betterblock.org/covid19 


If you are a plastic supplier, you can also help! Better Block is looking for plastic donations to cut the cost of the face shields. Currently, shields are costing the organization $6.50 per unit. 

Times of crisis and economic shift, show the importance of organizations being able to adapt their models to help communities where they are needed. Better Block has shown makers how to step up to help fight this crisis in an innovative way. To quote Better Block, “Three weeks ago, we were finishing a bike lane. Today, we’re making face shields. We know that the world has changed drastically for all of you as well. Thank you pivoting with us, and for answering the call.” 

To donate to a face shield visit: https://donorbox.org/become-a-better-block-benefactor


If this story has inspired you to support the North Texas nonprofit community, find out how you can support nonprofits during COVID-19.



The Kleinert Foundation was formed in 2017 by Ashlee and Chris Kleinert, with the mission to understand and address social issues with a focus on sex trafficking and vulnerable populations in the Dallas community. One of the guiding principles of the Kleinert Foundation is innovation, and 2019 the foundation launched its podcast The Road to Innovation. The podcast was inspired by the incredible and innovative organizations and thought leaders in Dallas. The Kleinert Foundation recognizes that COVID-19 has accelerated the need for innovation and is honored to partner with Dallas Doing Good to share the stories of these organizations.