3D Printed PPE
April 9, 2020 5:47 PM   Subscribe

People with 3D printers are being recruited into networks to produce face shields and other PPE. World wide: Europe, US, Vancouver: 300 masks a day Across BC: Also gowns, etc. My own rural area: Locals with printers plus at least one industrial size unit. Other Stuff?: Untested respirators (may or may not work in hospital settings)
posted by CCBC (20 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
I'm printing bands for this effort since it's right down the street from me.
posted by phearlez at 6:35 PM on April 9, 2020

Can anyone with industry knowledge describe at what point it’d be more cost effective and faster per unit to get a custom mold made and start churning out doodads at local injection molding company? A couple of days and a couple of grand in setup costs? Is that super optimistic?
posted by rh at 6:52 PM on April 9, 2020 [3 favorites]

Once again throwing up a link to NYC Makes PPE, which has been cranking out thousands of face shields over the past couple of weeks. If you can sew, laser-cut, or print and are in NYC, please pitch in.

rh, injection molding is vastly preferable but the lead time on tooling is significant. From what I understand there is tooling in the works though.
posted by phooky at 7:07 PM on April 9, 2020 [2 favorites]

A good video on how to organize a local effort along these lines.
posted by eviemath at 7:34 PM on April 9, 2020

rh, the link I gave addresses that a bit: they recommend 3D printing in the short term until injection molding is set up. They had a company volunteer for the injection molding effort, it sounded like, so didn't say much about cost.
posted by eviemath at 7:37 PM on April 9, 2020

NYCmakesPPE is one of the big NYC groups right now.
posted by overhauser at 7:49 PM on April 9, 2020

Yeah, injection mold tool leadtimes are measured in months.
posted by Huffy Puffy at 7:58 PM on April 9, 2020 [2 favorites]

The mayor of San Diego just announced public library and school 3d printers are all going to be making face shields. And in Maryland, they are working on turningbreast pumps pumps into last ditch ventilators .

Meanwhile my sister in law is cranking out masks on the sewing machine.

I love the ingenuity, but a little sad that we are at the stage where this is nessecary
posted by CostcoCultist at 8:22 PM on April 9, 2020 [8 favorites]

Over here in Kitchener, Ontario, a small company started an effort a few weeks ago for 3D printing face shields, but has since scaled up (with laser cutters and hiring lots of people) to producing tens of thousands a day.
posted by parudox at 9:51 PM on April 9, 2020 [2 favorites]

Yeah, injection mold tool leadtimes are measured in months.

For a complex steel tool as part of a normal commercial product workflow, yes - but for this, parts are simple and aluminium tooling can be cut within a week or two if you can find the right people to do the job.

Locally to me, we have one tool already running, one being cut right now, and another about to be ordered.

Part of the delay has been that the people who had the tooling and manufacturing capability hadn't been able to get hold of the right people in the NHS to give them useful feedback on design, and you need to have confidence the design is going to be usable before spending time and money cutting a tool.

Our group was lucky in that we had someone involved with the right local NHS contacts already in place from their work. We were able to get quick feedback on designs and start turning out 3D printed and foam cut versions while chasing the injection moulding. We've optimised the printers to do the parts in ten minutes, automated, 24/7. We're shipping a few hundred a day and will be up to thousands with moulding.

It's still nowhere near enough.
posted by automatronic at 12:56 AM on April 10, 2020 [6 favorites]

Part of the delay has been that the people who had the tooling and manufacturing capability hadn't been able to get hold of the right people in the NHS to give them useful feedback on design

Yep, that was the trickiest part of the design work for the laser-cut design I worked up. I had a super-long twitter conversation with a couple of doctors to inform the initial brief, and then some video calls as the design came together. It took a week to get to see some health workers in person and have them touch any of the designs (we had the 3DVerkstan and Prusa 3D printed designs available too).

That in-person meeting was excellent. I went into it expecting the Prusa to be the winner, but came out of it with orders from two hospitals for the 3DVerkstan (with a couple of suggestions for mods) and my laser-cut design.

By the time we'd got enough material to start production, I had more feedback on my design, and we made something like 60 of the original design before switching to an improved option.

I then got to meet with a local doctor who is dealing with patients with covid. Luckily that mostly confirmed the choices we'd made, but interestingly the 3D printed options were his least favourite.

3D printing and laser-cutting means you can do this quick iteration of the design on the fly, so you can be producing shields that work while improving the design for later ones.

If you're looking to spin this up locally, find your laser-cutters before you go hunting for 3D printers. The Prusa design takes 2+ hours to print on our Ultimakers; the 3DVerkstan takes under an hour; the laser-cut design takes under 2 minutes.

Sourcing material has also been the other big bottleneck in the process. The combination of lockdown interrupting the supply chain and most of the country scrambling to do the same thing is leading to shortages all over the place.

Our design files are all on github and there's a more public-facing website showing how we're trying to help here in Liverpool.
posted by amcewen at 1:49 AM on April 10, 2020 [3 favorites]

The company I work for has pivoted to manufacturing face shields. When we first got involved in the effort (over 3 weeks ago) the city/hospital had been talking to a 3D printing company; they could produce a couple hundred masks a day at a cost of around $40/ per. We have a big 3-axis CNC; it can cut out several thousand a day and the cost would be around $4/per. But then we partnered with the die-cutting shop down the street; they can stamp out tens of thousands per day and the costs go down to somewhere between $1-2 per (there is a certain amount of hand assembly required for each mask, regardless of the method used, so the costs don't scale perfectly).

This was all worked out over 2 weeks ago; and the material has been sitting there for over a week. In the end the bottleneck was bureaucracy- it finally got the relevant parties approval this week. Full steam ahead!

Anyway, I love 3D printing as much as the next guy but it just ain't there yet.
posted by Admiral Viceroy at 4:27 AM on April 10, 2020 [3 favorites]

Anyway, I love 3D printing as much as the next guy but it just ain't there yet.
Agreed when we are talking about scale, the few expensive 3d printed PPE that can be produced in the first week until we can get manufacturing at scale going could save hundreds of lives.

So thank you to all the helpers trying to save lives, and f-you to the system that has prioritized tax cuts for the rich and cruise missiles over having a reasonable stockpile of basic safety gear for a pandemic all the experts have been warning about for years.
posted by CostcoCultist at 5:03 AM on April 10, 2020 [4 favorites]

Maybe I'm crazy, but it seems like all these new connections manufacturers, especially small-scale ones, are making could be incredibly valuable as we emerge from this thing. What could be done to support that?
posted by sepviva at 7:29 AM on April 10, 2020 [1 favorite]

There's a number of people doing this locally where I am (Ottawa, ON). Last I heard (I am not involved, organizing is happening over Slack) they'd worked things out with at least 1 local hospital (CHEO) as well as an org providing health care to the homeless.
posted by quaking fajita at 7:31 AM on April 10, 2020 [1 favorite]

In Canada, unlike the US, it's illegal to produce Class I medical devices (which includes face shields) without a Medical Device Establishment Licence (MDEL). Health Canada has produced guidance (3D printing and other manufacturing of personal protective equipment in response to COVID-19) and is doing its best to fast-track MDEL applications. I know that the Kitchener company (Inksmith?) has applied for an MDEL, but just banging these out on your own 3d printer in Canada does open you up to liability. Even the simple ear-protector straps might be considered a Class 1 device.

The charity I work for — even with our 30+ year history of working with the Canadian government — has steered clear of getting an MDEL because the costs and requirements are so onerous. We're doing what we can with research into non-medical designs and safe sanitation/distribution of 3d printed designs: COVID Guidance for Makers.
posted by scruss at 11:03 AM on April 10, 2020 [4 favorites]

Downtown Los Angeles, CA reporting in: got an email last night from a local fine art printing/fabrication business and thought, "Great, another email from some random business telling me how they're 'handling' Covid-19." and I was totally wrong. :D
They've started manufacturing PPE for local hospitals first, then for whoever needs it after that. (Details on their gofundme page).
It seems their vinyl-cutting machine is well-suited to cutting MERV filter inserts from huge rolls of the filter paper.
I know them well enough to have donated some money and encourage others (in L.A.*) to do the same.
Bonus: donate more than $50 and you get a couple reusable/washable/filter-changeable face masks.

*Do whatever you like, but if I lived elsewhere and read this I'd be looking to support a similar effort locally.
posted by ButteryMales at 11:24 AM on April 10, 2020 [3 favorites]

Another helpful use for 3D printers is to make a pleating jig for people who are sewing fabric face masks. The pleating jig is a rectangular shape you fold the fabric over. It helps you make even pleats on both sides, and you can use an iron to press the pleats so that they're easier to sew.

(I've been sewing face masks using the fork method. I use a corn-on-the-cob holder to fold the pleats, which works... okay, I guess. Better than doing the pleats by hand, which I was at first. Our local library has been printing small batches of pleating jigs. I'm hoping to score one in one of their upcoming giveaways.)
posted by ErikaB at 3:09 PM on April 10, 2020 [3 favorites]

I just learned of this collection of 3D models "Curated by NIH/NIAID in collaboration with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the Veterans Healthcare Administration, and America Makes." Those at the top of the page have been reviewed for clinical use.
posted by exogenous at 10:37 AM on April 17, 2020 [1 favorite]

3D printed HALO PAPR (Powered Air Purifying Respirator)
This is not a mask, but a PAPR (Powered Air Purifying Respirator). It extends utility of already FDA approved anesthesia viral filters to create a highly protective PAPR. As a full head covering PAPR, it protects both aerosol, droplet, and splash threat from all directions.
posted by MrVisible at 11:34 AM on April 17, 2020 [1 favorite]

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