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Covid-19: designers and makers get together and share their information

Faced with the shortage of materials for caregivers, designers and maker communities are mobilizing to share their files, organize additional local productions, or even trigger production conversions. And day by day, the organization is improving, and initiatives to centralize this data, to make the link between supply and demand are increasing.

Article updated on April 16 at 3 p.m.

Among the shortages facing hospitals and the health sector as a whole, the needs identified relate in particular to disposable gloves, masks, disposable coveralls, disposable overshoes, protective visors. Whether by relatives, acquaintances or local needs, designers and makers were immediately approached by caregivers for local productions.

3D printing file sharing

From the 2nd day of confinement, the Czech Joseph Prusa immediately published on social networks a file for a 3D impression of a visor: improved over the times, version 17 of this model is circulating today. Very quickly, design communities get involved from all sides so that, everywhere in France, those who have 3D printers, produce and deliver batches to health establishments, and to private nursing staff, to the Ephad. And social networks are accelerating the movement: 3D makers are getting organized within Visières Solidaires Facebook groups.

4000 3D makers have also joined the YouTuber Heliox linking site. Platforms are created to bring together calls for materials and designers. The site thus connects professionals in contact with the public and volunteers (“I need protective equipment” / “I want to manufacture protective equipment” / “I want to offer raw materials” ).

For its part, a platform of the Public Assistance of Hospitals of Paris (APHP) transmits to professionals via the platform urgent needs, informs about working groups, studies for standard solutions, validations … Thus, the chapter house of the Abbey of Port-Royal has just welcomed 60 Stratasys printers, installed with Bone3D, CADVision and the teams from Cochin Hospital. This park of professional 3D machines will be able to respond to high volume production on demand.

The objective is to set up organized production chains using the resources identified, while possibly making adjustments pointed out by an “emergency design office” set up. As they specify, “We have 3500m² facilities in Île-de-France and we are also fortunate to have volunteers on site who can receive parts, assemble and distribute products.”

We should also note the initiative of engineering students and young graduates of the latest Supméca promotions who set up the platform. Iniative 3D . They present themselves as “an unprecedented network of additive manufacturing resources mobilizing individuals, fablabs, universities, professionals and large industrial groups.”

Industrial production

Along with these material productions, research is also underway for the manufacture of artificial respiration devices. Antoine Berr thus worked with engineers and doctors to design the MUR (Minimal Universal Respirator), and shares the results of this work on a site regularly updated. Another example, Makers for life (a Nantes collective) is currently working on the design of an open source breathing apparatus that can be industrialized.

From all sides, initiatives are flourishing, in support of these networks, it is necessary to take into account factories, companies, which are reconverting their activity: here, it is textile workers who come to support the production of masks or groups of cosmetics that produce hydroalcoholic gel; there, it is a company which will follow the initiatives of a designer from its team, and reconvert its production to manufacture protective visors for caregivers in 3D printing, injection or laser cutting on the basis of shared files. Thus, the breeding ground of creators, manufacturers is there, for the passage in production, the requests for materials are important, for example for visors from the plastic sheets of interlayers to the sheets of PVC for the industrial productions.

Centralize information to better share it

A pioneer among makers, Mathilde Berchon recently created her FuturFab agency, around the exploration of digital manufacturing, the circular economy and the maker movement. On social networks, she very quickly noticed the proliferation of initiatives, but also the lack of centralization of information to make the link between 3D printing companies, health players, designers and makers. It thus sets up an open list, which identifies companies, current initiatives, individuals. Open to everyone, this list, which is constantly being added to, is a valuable tool for sharing information and experiences (see the list here) . It skillfully complements all current mutual aid initiatives.

Examples of shared files

The Millimeters design agency provides a visor frame that is particularly economical in plastic: this greatly reduces printing time. In addition, this model is printed by stacking, this means that on the surface of the printing plate it is possible to print several dozen copies at one time and therefore to launch printing in small series ( find the elements and a video here ).

Nathalie Degardin