Fighting the Corona Virus in Aachen and Elsewhere
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In response to the 2020 Corona virus pandemic, a host of grassroots initiatives has sprung up around the globe to help address the predicted shortage of medical devices and supplies through distributed, open-source, on-demand, agile digital fabrication solutions like 3D printing and laser cutting in Fab Lab, Makerspaces and at Makers's homes. They range from simple hands-free door handles for offices, to face shields for doctors, to complete ventilators for patient care (Beatmungsgeräte).
Our Fab Lab Aachen at RWTH Aachen University has joined this movement. The Ministry of Economy (MWIDE) has also offered its swift and unbureaucratic support through our partner, the RWTH Excellence Startup Center. Within days, this has grown to become an Aachen Region against Corona initiative that brings together researchers, entrepreneurs, and Makers from the Aachen region and beyond. While we focus on coordinating local aid, you'll find helpful information here no matter where you are from.
Who are you?
Read the press release to understand who we are.
What can you make?
This Guide (a Google doc) is collecting and medically evaluating dozens of open-source medical device designs needed to fight Corona from around the globe. It is continuously updated by the global Open Source COVID19 Medical Supplies Facebook group.
We cannot make all of the designs listed there. Here is a list of the machines and tools in our Fab Lab Aachen. Other labs at RWTH Aachen University, companies and Makers in the region have additional fabrication capabilities, which we are bringing together here.
What are you doing right now to help fight Corona?
Right now, we are contacting hospitals in the region to understand precisely what kind of supplies could best help them in the immediate future. To give them some examples of what is possible, we have printed prototypes of protective face shields that can protect doctors during close patient interactions, and hands-free door handles that can help reduce the risk of spreading the virus between people.
Can you produce (x) for me?
If you are a hospital or other institution that must keep its doors open right now to keep our Aachen region's infrastructure running, then please email me so we can talk. We want to understand your needs, so that we can be helpful. Our own production capabilities are fast, but limited. But we may be able to connect you to other parts of RWTH that can help better. For example, there is already an initiative to create emergency ventilators that involves our lab, RWTH IRT, and RWTH PEM.
If you are not one of the above institutions, then we cannot help you right now, because we want to focus our limited resources on the most critical points to keep Corona from spreading, and to help those in dire medical need.
If you are not from the Aachen region, check fablabs.io to see if there is a Fab Lab in your area that could help with fabricating some urgently needed parts. Of course you are still welcome to join us to learn about our efforts and help; read on.
I want to help! What can I do?
Start by reading this Guide (a Google doc). It is continuously updated by the global Open Source COVID19 Medical Supplies Facebook group that is collecting and medically evaluating dozens of open-source medical device designs needed to fight Corona from around the globe. If you come across a design on the internet that is not listed there and that you find promising, let them know. This helps us avoid duplicating design efforts and find the best designs for different needs and production capabilities quickly.
If you have a 3D printer, read the above guide first. It may give you a great idea for something urgently needed in your neighborhood. If you are looking for something to start right now, consider printing these hands-free door handles from Materialise's free designs for your home, workplace, or local essential institutions. Read their technical recommendations for print orientation and mounting before printing. They are especially useful for heavier doors that aren't easily pulled open with your elbow.
You can also offer your 3D printer capacity to the European Commission to create face masks (our Fab Lab already registered).
If you have 3D design skills or an Ultimaker 3D printer, sign up with Ultimaker to offer your printer capacity or 3D design skills (our Fab Lab already registered).
If you are a doctor, consider joining the medical evaluation efforts of the Open Source COVID19 Medical Supplies Facebook group after reading their Guide. If you have urgent need for a particular supply or device yourself, contact me.
Ready to join?
If you are ready to join us after looking at the info above, please join us on Slack, where we are coordinating requests, design files and tips, and production for the local Aachen region. The channel is in German. Introduce yourself and get connected!