3D Printing PPE for Healthcare Settings
Lead Researchers: Professor Denis Dowling (UCD School of Mechanical and Materials Engineering and Director I-Form, the SFI Research Centre for Advanced Manufacturing at UCD) and Professor Dermot Brabazon (Dublin City University and Deputy Director of I-Form).
Covid-19 is an infectious disease. Frontline health workers need personal protective equipment (PPE) to reduce their risk of contracting the disease and to reduce the risk of them transmitting the virus to others. However, PPE has been in short supply in healthcare settings in Ireland.
Within I-Form, the SFI Research Centre for Advanced Manufacturing based at UCD, the Covid-19 Rapid Response Digital Manufacturing and Innovation Hub will rapidly design, manufacture and deliver urgently needed PPE for frontline medical staff in hospitals and other healthcare settings.
They will primarily focus on 3D printing of key PPE parts for wearable equipment, such as face protectors, and parts for environmental protectors, such as door openers and ventilator parts.
The project will provide much-needed PPE for hospitals and other healthcare settings, which will help to protect front-line workers and patients, which will in turn provide greater protection in healthcare settings for workers, patients and their families.
What is the issue?
Frontline health workers need personal protective equipment (PPE) to protect themselves and patients from Covid-19 in healthcare settings. Such equipment, which includes face shields and visors, has been in short supply.
What will the research project do?
SFI will fund the Covid-19 Rapid Response Digital Manufacturing and Innovation Hub at I-Form to rapidly design, manufacture and deliver urgently needed PPE for frontline medical staff in hospitals and other healthcare settings. They will focus particularly on 3D printing parts for PPE including visors, door openers, ventilator and face protector parts.
What will the impact be?
Healthcare institutions that will benefit include Tallaght University Hospital, St. Vincent’s University Hospital, HSE Dublin North and HSE test centres, National Ambulance Service, University Hospital Limerick, Midlands Regional Hospital and the HSE Crisis Management Team for Dublin South, Kildare & West Wicklow Community Healthcare. The innovative 3D printed solutions will help to plug the supply-chain gap for PPE for thousands of healthcare workers in Ireland.
Professor Denis Dowling, Full Professor at UCD School of Mechanical and Materials Engineering and Director of I-Form, says: “Since the start of the pandemic we have been working to support frontline staff, including the 3D printing of over 4,000 protective visors. This funding from SFI will be of enormous assistance in helping us to develop our use of 3D printing technology for PPE, including addressing improved part design, material and performance issues.”
Professor Dermot Brabazon, Full Professor at Dublin City University School of Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering and Deputy Director of I-Form, says: “The sudden escalation in the need for protective wearables from mid-March this year has led to many requests coming in to us for support. This funding will enable not just the provision of these important supplies, but will enable further improvement in the provision of more comfortable and protective PPE for frontline workers.”