Aram Saeed (School of Pharmacy, University of East Anglia [UAE], Norwich, UK) and others have launched a project to 3D print ventilator parts, masks and other critical equipment to manage the COVID-19 virus. According to a press release, they are working with the tech community to access 3D printers, as well people with the necessary skills to work at pace to design and make equipment. The researchers are also collaborating with healthcare providers to understand their needs, and hope to mobilise similar projects at other universities nationally and globally.

Saeed comments: “It is absolutely vital that universities join forces with healthcare providers and businesses to find creative solutions to fight COVID-19. We need shortcuts to speed up the process of designing and developing key ventilator parts, and we hope to connect with other universities and expertise around the globe. It is still very early days for this project, but the response so far has been amazing. It is very much a steep learning curve, but we have a fantastic team of researchers and PhD students working on this, and we will be using our academic networks to help solve the problem.”

Ben Garrod (School of Biological Sciences, University of East Anglia, Norwich, UK), who is also involved with the effort, says: “We are in an unprecedented time in modern history and in facing such an unprecedented challenge, we need to respond with an unprecedented response, collaboration and effort.

“In the days, weeks and months ahead, our amazing NHS and its frontline staff are going to need all the help they can get and universities are in a very fortunate position in having the people, expertise and technology to be able to assist.

 “The work being done here at UEA and across the Norwich Research Park will help provide supplies and equipment at a local and national level, but we need help. We need help from businesses, other universities, individuals and so many others right now and already the response has been amazing. Printing off ventilator components, specialist masks and other equipment will, I’m sure, help those frontline NHS staff save lives across the country in the time ahead.”

The team are looking to collaborate with people with software skills – particularly Solidworks for CAD design, and those trained in 3D scanners and conversion of files to STIL files (printable version).

They are also looking for printers – specifically Fused Deposition Modeling (FMD), that uses thermoplastic filaments, brands Makerbot or similar, and SLA types printers which use liquid resins.

The scope of the project may move into re-purposing or reconfiguring existing ventilators, rapidly developing new ventilators and producing other medical supplies such as PEEP valves and face shields.

Saeed comments: “Right now we need help with software, hardware, medical product design, and product testing. We may also need support from engineering sectors for flow sensors, pneumatic units and data processing monitors.”

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