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UCD volunteers use 3D printing to produce PPE for front-line COVID-19 medical staff

Posted 3 April, 2020

Dr Heather O'Connor, a postdoctoral researcher in UCD within the I-Form Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre, producing Face Shields for use by medicial staff on the front-line against Covid-19

A group of UCD researchers and engineers have produced 600 face shields to be used by front-line medical staff working on Covid-19 using the University's advanced manufacturing research facility.

Using their expertise in 3D printing, a group of engineering volunteers have been working with colleagues in I-Form, the SFI Research Centre for Advanced Manufacturing based at UCD, to provide the much Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).

Following a direct appeal for face shields from Tallaght University Hospital in Dublin, the project began last Friday (27th March) and the team worked throughout the weekend to fulfil the request.

"Myself and my colleagues at I-Form and UCD spent all weekend in our lab - taking it in shifts to ensure social distancing - and by Sunday night we had produced 300 face shields,” said Dr Andrew Dickson, a postdoctoral researcher at I-Form.

“Working as a team, we took existing designs and optimised them to produce one part every 17 minutes.”

The volunteers have continued their work, so far producing and donating 600 face shields to front-line staff across Dublin.

They are now looking to create other needed PPE, such as protective goggles and ventilator-related technology aids., for HSE Covid-19 testing centres and hospitals.

Across the globe stocks of PPE have been running low as many countries find their healthcare services overwhelmed by Covid-19 cases.

Doctors and nurses have complained that a lack of sufficient PPE has hampered their efforts to safely treat patients, with many risking transmission of the coronavirus to themselves and colleagues.

(opens in a new window)Professor Denis DowlingUCD School of Mechanical and Materials Engineering and Director of I-Form, said the volunteers working at the SFI Research Centre were doing what they to use their “manufacturing expertise and infrastructure to help protect healthcare workers fighting COVID-19 on the front-line”.

“Additive manufacturing (3D printing) is a highly adaptable technology that can be quickly harnessed to meet an immediate need. It enables local production at relatively low cost,” he added.

By: David Kearns, Digital Journalist / Media Officer, UCD University Relations