People around the country and the world are coming up with creative solutions to help in the effort to contain the spread of the novel Coronavirus. Here are a few examples that we’ve seen in recent days.
A couple in upstate New York is using 3D printers to make medical face shields. Stephanie Keef and Isaac Budmen of Budmen Industries have printed at least 400 face shields and delivered them to their local hospitals. They’ve also shared the files online and created a database to connect 3D printers with hospitals that need supplies. According to the company, the design has already been downloaded almost 2,000 times and they’ve gotten 40,000 requests for masks. To read the full story on CNN, click here.
One hospital in the city of Brescia, in Northern Italy, ran out of respirator valves. Local manufacturers quickly took the task upon themselves to 3D print replacement valves, and likely saved many lives in the process.
A San Francisco-based designer put out a call for designers and engineers to design an open-source ventilator to supplement hospitals that are in short supply and which he describes as “the device that becomes the decider between life and death” for COVID-19 patients. To read the full story on Fast Company, click here.
3D printers work similar to a standard printer, except instead of using ink to print an image on paper, they typically use plastics and other materials to build an object, layer upon layer, in three dimensions. And the building blocks for 3D printing are petrochemicals, like polypropylene from propylene; ABS from propylene, butadiene and benzene; and polyester film from xylene, which make the materials strong, durable and light-weight.
While these efforts are helping at a local level, a national mobilization is needed to produce enough items needed to protect frontline healthcare workers and patients. Companies that have started to answer the call include:
- Ford is teaming up with GE Healthcare and 3M to increase production of much-need medical supplies, including prototyping transparent face shields aiming to produce up to 100,000/week.
- Carbon, a Silicon Valley start-up, is making personal protective equipment (face shields) and swabs for Covid-19 tests as reported in Forbes.
- HP has designed a 3D-printed face mask, plus other parrts for a field ventilator.
- Car companies, like General Motors, Tesla and Ford, have begun working on ventilator production, though it could take several months to complete.