Researchers at the University of East Anglia have launched a project to 3D print ventilator parts, masks and other critical equipment to battle the Covid-19 virus.
They are working closely with Haas Automation and other companies and individuals in the tech community to access 3D printers, and the necessary skills to work at pace to design and make equipment.
More than 20 organisations in the region have come together to supply the University with the materials and labour to produce parts to assemble the face shields, which are being delivered to Norfolk’s three major hospitals.
Over the past few weeks, businesses and individuals have delivered 3D printed parts, clear plastic and elasticated bands for UEA to assemble. UEA aims to distribute around 200 of the finished products every day.
The collaboration comes after UEA put a call out to tech providers and the local community for assistance with providing access to 3D printers and sharing software skills in March, in a project led by Dr Aram Saeed.
The visors consist of three main types of material:
The external organisations who have helped provide vital support for the project have ranged from prominent businesses in the region, local branches of major national and international companies, and small independent businesses in the county.
In addition to this, a number of individual volunteers from the 3D printing community have also come forward to offer support, thanks to efforts from SyncNorwich.
Dr Mahmoud Abdelhamid, Lecturer in Chemical Biology at UEA, has played a key role in the project by organising and taking part in the printing, assembly, and distribution of the visors.
Dr Abdelhamid said: “This has truly been a collaborative effort and I’d like to thank every single one of the organisations that have assisted us in this project, as well as the UEA staff responsible for assembling the face shields. Without any one of you we simply would not have been able to have produced these shields in the quantities we have managed so far.
“We’re trying to do everything we can to assist our colleagues in the NHS during this difficult time and, with the continued help of local organisations, we’re hoping to produce plenty more. However, the supply of materials at our disposal is not exhaustive so if you are able to help us with this in any way then please get in touch.”
Fiona Lettice, Pro Vice Chancellor Research and Innovation at UEA said: “We really appreciate the initial support we had from SyncNorwich to help build a brilliant network of 3D printers, and we had over 700 responses to our initial call for help, from businesses and individuals.
“Since then, the team have worked incredibly well – from our academics to our technicians and relationship managers – to bring together a new network, build an assembly operation, follow strict health and safety protocols and maintain close links to understand the hospital requirements throughout.
“We are proud to be able to support our frontline colleagues in this way and to harness the creativity and resourcefulness of the county’s businesses and individuals.”
Any organisations who would like to help with supplies for the visor project should contact firstname.lastname@example.org