3D Printing for the NHS

As I’m currently researching makerspaces colleagues are often kind enough to share emails on maker activities I might find of interest. I was particularly interested in a recent email from Isabel Virgo – Academic Liaison Librarian for Business, on librarians at Columbia University using the library’s 3D printers to make medical equipment for key workers, in particular face shields to protect against Covid 19 transmission

Finding out that makers have been sharing medical designs that can be 3D printed open source online so anyone can print them, I wondered if we could use our 3D printer and offer masks for local NHS workers. Healthcare Academic Liaison Librarian Vicki Farmillo suggested we try and plug into an existing scheme rather than try and make connections on our own, and found a local school that was doing just that.

3d printer 1

Digital Services TEL Developer Gerard Helmich contacted the school and we found they were very keen to have the loan of our printer. With this in mind I sought and received permission to get if from the JHB from our Director, Doctor Helen Workman, and have now successfully delivered it to Jennifer at Balcarras school in Cheltenham. We also donated some filament and Gerard is available for technical advice if needed. Having gone from just a few 3D printers the school now has, through donations and loans, 10 including ours. Even if each machine can only produce approximately one mask a day, this will still build up to a good output. Medical professionals are already picking them up and using them. 3d printer 2Although there obviously hasn’t been time for official testing, the professionals themselves find them to be as effective as the standard issue ones (that are in very short supply). I also picked up a face shield from Jen for a friend who is an NHS worker (see photo), which I will pass on (at a safe distance). As we all stand outside our houses on Thursday evenings clapping our wonderful NHS, it’s good to make some contribution, however comparatively minor compared to their efforts, to support them!

Robert Curry,  Associate Director of Learning Resources – Academic

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