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As the world is experiencing a time of unprecedented physical separation and uncertainty, due to the rise and spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19), people are joining forces and promoting community initiatives to help stop the spread of the virus.
#CoronavirusMakers is a group of people who work with 3-D printers, or are fans of 3-D printing, who, without hesitation, have made themselves available to the public to provide their services to make medical equipment. The movement includes people working on DIY ventilators, and others making efforts to supply medical centers and hospitals with personal protection equipment (PPE), such as safety screens or face masks. All of them use open source materials online and work together with experts and specialists to make sure the products meet the standards regarding materials and manufacturing processes and protocols for rapid device approvals. They also interface with hospitals and healthcare providers to move forward with this work in safe and effective ways.
Berklee faculty member Marta Verde joined the #CoronavirusMakers initiative after she saw it on different social media channels and Whatsapp and Telegram groups. “This movement emerged spontaneously all around Spain when the crisis began to worsen, and quickly people organized themselves into working groups, some of them designing and testing the prototypes in the first instance,” Verde says. Groups organized “first by autonomous community, province, and neighborhoods, managing logistics in small nodes to be more effective.” Verde’s team has 120 active members, and they are already scheduling deliveries to hospitals and centers for the elderly.
The safety screens are printed on 3-D printers, and the latest validated model takes between two and three hours to print. After printing, a PVC sheet is attached to each screen; these can be replaced by paper tissues when they degrade. The strongest groups are those building DIY respirators, though their projects require extra care and some materials and electronic equipment that are difficult to come by at the moment.
“This is a time without precedent and I would encourage anyone who is interested in collaborating to do it,” Verde says. “People without access to 3-D printers are also helping with logistics and distribution. A small contribution can make a great difference to the health system, and the healthcare personnel are really thankful.”