Researchers at the University of East Anglia have launched a project to 3D print ventilator parts, masks and other critical equipment to battle the Covid-19 virus.
Project lead Dr Aram Saeed, from UEA’s School of Pharmacy, said: “It is absolutely vital that universities join forces with healthcare providers and businesses to find creative solutions to fight Covid-19.
“We need disruptive technology to expedite the process of designing and developing key ventilator parts, and we hope to connect with other universities and expertise around the globe.
“It’s still very early days for this project, but the response so far has been amazing. We have a fantastic team of researchers and PhD students working on this, and we will be using our academic networks to help solve the problem.”
The team are looking to collaborate with people with software skills – particularly Solidworks for CAD design, and those trained in 3D scanners and conversion of files to STIL files (printable version).
They are also looking for printers – specifically Fused Deposition Modeling (FMD), that uses thermoplastic filaments, brands Makerbot or similar, and SLA types printers which use liquid resins.
The scope of the project may move into re-purposing or reconfiguring existing ventilators, rapidly developing new ventilators and producing other medical supplies such as PEEP valves and face shields.
Dr Saeed said: “Right now we need help with software, hardware, medical product design, and product testing. We may also need support from engineering sectors for flow sensors, pneumatic units and data processing monitors.”
The team are already collaborating with SyncNorwich (the local tech community) and the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital.
The initiative is one of many being undertaken at UEA to help the NHS in their fight against the new coronavirus.
Dr Justin O’Grady, from UEA’s Norwich Medical School, is pioneering a portable coronavirus kit which could be rolled out to test NHS staff in weeks. The test would provide a result, displayed on a smartphone, in just 50 minutes after taking a throat swab.
Meanwhile technicians at UEA’s New Science Building have been using the facilities to make hand sanitiser gel, and they have already begun distribution to the NHS in Norfolk and beyond.
If you would like to get involved with this project, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.