This March, as Covid-19 started to take its grip on the nation, there was a grassroots call-to-action asking those with 3D printing capabilities to produce protective equipment to those in the medical field. RODE, enthusiastic to help, virtually “came together” to design, produce, and donate PPE to those in need.
A “RODE Response Task Force” was established, and data and designs were strategized via video chats and phone calls. Just as it is when designing a building, many factors had to be considered:
Porosity – Is the printer's PLA (polylactic acid) too porous to be protective as a mask?
Cleanability – Can it be easily sprayed and wiped cleaned?
Breathability – Does it protect, while allowing users to easily get air?
Moldability – Will it easily mold to different face and head shapes?
From their research, the team discovered it was more beneficial to print face shields instead of masks. “The face shields are flexible and easy to fit around all head shapes. Acting as a headband for your forehead, the shield allows a piece of plastic to clip into a frame, making sterilizing or replacing the shield component quick and simple. When used in tandem with other PPE, the shields are perfect for providing medical professionals with an additional layer of protection,” said Anna Arnot, Architectural Designer at RODE
Next, the team researched open source 3D print files for face shields and selected a shield created by Professor Jenny Sabin at Cornell University. Archimedia generously donated a 3D printer to the cause, and RODE began production.
The endeavor has been a big success. Alex Zee, Architectural Designer at RODE, provided his girlfriend a shield, enabling her to spend a week by her grandmother’s bedside in a Covid unit. The shield, used in conjunction with a mask, successfully protected her from the virus (she tested negative for Covid-19 the following week).
Currently, Alex is overseeing the production and assembly of 300 shields for UMass Medical. The DCU Center in Worcester will serve as an emergency clinic and our shields will protect health care workers and volunteers while working with patients. RODE is also hoping to provide other outlets with shields, such as nursing homes and assisted living facilities in hopes we can help more individuals fighting the good fight.