• 3 April 2020

    Additive Manufacturing in Action – Relieve PPE Shortage amid COVID-19 Response

    3 Apr 2020
    Amnani Adnan

    The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has caused an alarming level of global spread and severity of illness. Industrial supply chain is inevitably broken which leads to incapacity to cater pressing demand of medical gears including Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).

    Medical staffs are exposed to greater risk of infection while treating infected patients. Hence, PPE is one of the most important protective layers for the front-liners in a crisis like this. Many hospitals have already run out of face masks, face shields, N95 masks and other PPE including surgical gown, surgical cap and boots cover.

    With COVID-19 emergency, 3D printing technology has become the stopgap measure and provides the opportunity to efficiently produce affordable gears, which are now crucial to protect medical staffs. While injection moulding can produce high volume, 3D printing is at advantage amid this time with its capability to cater frequent design change in the visor, quick turnaround time and more importantly, it allows all the makers to print at home when the factories are disrupted and at the same time, social distancing is strictly adhered. The strength of 3D printing is it can be anywhere, adapt on the fly in addressing shortages of parts related to shields, masks and ventilators among other essential gears.

    IME is working with a taskforce to produce PPE gears and medical equipment for hospitals, medical centers and clinics. Our aim is to produce as many face shields with secured design in the shortest time, and also possibly for faster gowning and de-gowning.

    If you have a 3D printer, join us in producing protective face shields.

    Protective Face Shield

    1. Visor
    2. Clear A4 plastic sheet/ PVC sheet
    3. Elastic band

    Step-by-step Guide in Producing a Protective Face Shield.

    1. Download .stl file, g code (if you’re using 3D Espresso) and printer settings
    2. Load the visor STL into the CURA slicer.
    3. With a standard 0.4mm nozzle, we can set the layer height up to 0.28mm. Wall line count will ensure the visor is strong enough.
    4. Top and Bottom layers set to 3 to reduce the print time while maintaining sufficient strength.
      After several tests, 0% infill density is sufficient and strong enough which helps accelerate the print time. Use skirt with 2 line count instead of brim to print faster.
    5. Slice and save the file. Do a quick preview to ensure the model is good to print.
    6. Do a manual bed leveling before start the print. Good practice with preheat the nozzle and heated bed before bed leveling. Adjust the leveling knob on all corners of the heated bed.
    7. After reaching target temperature, select desired visor file to print that was saved earlier. Always supervise the first layer of the print before leaving it alone.
    8. If the first layer did not turn out in a good shape, you can always play with the ‘Babystepping’ Z value. If the first layer is far from bed, make the value to negative; if too near to bed, make the value higher. If the first layer is way too off which indicate a bad bed leveling. Hence, you need to pause or stop the print the redo the bed leveling process.
    9. Harvest the completed visor with the help of scrapper.
    10. Clean the build plate with IPA.
    11. Remove sharp edges, stringing and excess material using a cutter.
    12. Slip the PVC sheet into the gap of the visor frame.
    13. Staple at the two corners and centre of the PVC sheet to secure it. (Make sure the sheet does not fall)
    14. Tie two rubber bands and insert them to the hook of the frame.
    15. A protective face shield is ready to protect the front-liners.

    This is not just a public health crisis, it is a crisis that is impacting every sector, so every sector and every individual has to be involved in this fight.

    We can win this fight when we work together and do our part. The medical staffs and armed forces are saving lives and keeping order, and we will stay at home. The virus chain shall be broken in no time.

    #weareinthistogether #wewillgetthroughthis


    Fill in the form if you want to help printing the visor – https://bit.ly/ime-covid19taskforce  

    Get in contact with us if have printing enquiries
    Malone Mah
    +60 16-626 8869
    IME Group of Companies

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