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‘Makers’ against coronavirus

26 March 2020
impresora 3d

A collection of the most noteworthy initiatives by citizens to stop the pandemic.

The healthcare crisis caused by the global outbreak of the COVID-19 virus has taken hospitals and healthcare professionals from around the world to the limit, especially in northern Italy, the country with the highest number of deaths due to the pandemic to date. Following the call from healthcare centres, in mid-March an Italian 3D printer company started to produce what is today one of the most highly-prized instruments: respirator valves. These are the so-called “makers”. The term ‘maker’ is given to the individuals involved in the maker movement: a culture of self-production and problem-solving with roots in do-it-yourself and the hacker movement that, armed with 3D printers and design software, produce all types of item the designs of which they make available to the community using open source software.

This maker initiative to produce respirators quickly spread to the Catalan Countries. So much so that the Generalitat de Catalunya Health department has announced an agreement with Consorci de la Zona Franca, Seat, Hewlett Packard, the healthcare consortium of Terrassa and Parc Taulí in Sabadell to manufacture them. This article, however, includes some of the proposals set up by citizens to date:

Protective masks

Students from the Massana School of art and design in Barcelona have created a protective mask for healthcare staff. Libreguard, as it is called, consists of three attachment bands and a clear plastic screen. The production of masks is designed to be completed and assembled in one minute at a cost of 20 Euro cents each, using a single sheet of the same easy-to-clean material and with the possibility of reusing the structure. The product is registered with a licence that means it can be copied and improved, and its creators have opened a channel in case anyone has been able to do so.

A similar initiative is being carried out in Les Terres de l’Ebre. The team promoting the proposal came about following a call to come together through Telegram groups from around the world and includes the support of Institut de l’Ebre in Tortosa. CatSalut has given the go ahead for a prototype that is now being used in Hospital Verge de la Cinta in Tortosa, and Móra d’Ebre council has lent printers to make protective masks to healthcare professionals. Similar proposals have taken place in Olot, La Garrotxa, and Lleida. The healthcare centres in El Camp have called for companies that work in 3D printing to produce this material to reinforce their stocks.

Opening doors without touching them

Parc Taulí in Sabadell has a 3D laboratory that is working on promoting proposals such as all those indicated. With a team made up of biomedical engineers, the healthcare park in the joint capital of Vallès Occidental is working on scanning respirator parts and plastic masks such as those by Libreguard, but also on a system with which doors can be opened without having to touch them, thus avoiding contagion. A similar initiative is being promoted in Seu d’Urgell, where a utensil has already been printed so that doors can be opened without touching them.

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