Designers 3D-Print Personal Protection Equipment
A need for quick-response manufacturing is creating a boost in 3D-printing efforts. Once hailed as revolutionary, 3D printers never became as widely adopted as expected. Now their flexible and open-source benefits are more relevant than ever, as designers step in to fulfil a soaring demand for personal protection equipment (PPE).
Architects across the US are mobilising their 3D printing and modelmaking capabilities to create face shields that can protect hospital workers treating Covid-19 patients. The initiative is co-ordinated by the Architecture, Art and Planning (AAP) faculty at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, and uses an open-source file provided by Swedish 3D-printing company 3DVerkstan. The design comprises a hole-punched clear plastic sheet, which clicks onto a printed visor band that sits across the forehead.
The New York office of the international Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) is among the participating practices. BIG’s team has succeeded in improving the design for a sped-up printing process and is planning for its London and Copenhagen offices to join in the effort.
Meanwhile in Spain, Nagami Design has adapted the robotic arm used for printing furniture by the likes of Zara Hadid and Ross Lovegrove, so that it can produce up to 500 face shields a day, which are being donated to nearby hospitals.
Chinese 3D-printer manufacturer Creality is summoning owners of 3D printers to join them in creating plastic buckles that make wearing face masks more comfortable. The company designed the strap in response to reports of medical workers suffering from painful pressure on the face and ears.
3D printing can even help to create medical equipment, as demonstrated by Italian company Isinnova. Its engineers have fitted snorkelling masks, provided by French sporting goods retailer Decathlon, with a valve for respiratory machines, which successfully transforms them into emergency masks for hospital ventilators. Files are open source, while a quick-filed patent should guarantee the design remains free for everyone.