The short version: the fablab is capable of fabricating some medical things locally if needed. Read on for details. Even if our fablab is currently closed, Pangloss Labs members have been studying the possibilities for making the equipment needed to help fight COVID19 in case we are needed. The open source community around the world has stepped up magnificently. There are a number of groups online, designing and testing different types of equipment. From face masks to face shields to automated ventilators that provide oxygen to patients in difficulty. Designs are undergoing medical tests in Ireland and Spain. The most active seems to be this one on facebook which has a crowd sourced document on potential solutions and needs for fighting COVID19. We have been solicited by the region Rhone-Alpes Auvergne to tell them of our capacities for digital fabrication and have done so. More than 130 3D printers have been made available across the region. Some people around the world started immediately 3D printing face masks, which is certainly feasible, if a bit slow. However, 3D printed face masks have a number of downsides, not least of which is that filament-based 3D printed objects are difficult to sterilise (not impossible, but more difficult than an injection moulded plastic design) and, of course, they do not conform to national standards.
So what is feasible to do in a Fablab?We have 3D printers, laser cutters and mechatronics capabilties. We are not, for the most part, medically trained. We have collected together some of the open source designs that would be feasible to fabricate in our fablab :
3D printed door handle extendersThese are designed to make it so doors can be opened with arms instead of hands - reducing the spread of COVID19. Materialise have created an open source collection of designs for different types of doors. These take 2-4 hours to 3D print.
3D printed door openersthis time so a person can carry it from door to door and not have to touch them with their hands to open it. Thingiverse has a collection of designs. These take roughly 30 minutes to 3D print.
FacemasksMaking filters for facemasks is a simple process of cutting the correct shape from the appropriate filter material. In the event that facemasks and the proper materials are really not available, studies have been done to find "last resort" replacements For cloth facemasks, you don't really need a fablab. Scissors and a sewing machine will work fine.
3D Printed FacemasksMany enthusiastic 3D printing communities have designed and printed facemasks on the grounds that they are better than nothing. . There are a number of different designs from HEPA filter based, to simple frames for a cloth mask. It's impossible to choose which ones would be useful locally, but if there are clear local needs, there are plenty of open source designs available for us to use or modify.
Face shieldsIf masks are not available, then face shields can protect medical staff against direct droplet infection - like from a cough. Face shields can be laser cut from clear plastic which is much faster than 3D printing. There are even designs which use A4 plastification sheets.
VentilatorsIn a more serious pandemic situation, we could certainly provide small scale production of open source ventilator designs to help patients breathe.
Oxygen concentratorReprap has started work on an open-source Oxygen Concentrator.
Valves and other complex partsThere has been at least one case where a hospital in Italy has had valves for reanimation devices 3D printed when they weren't available from the supplier. We have machines in our fablab that can do this.
We are willing to do our partOur production capacity in the fablab is limited but we have links with other fablabs/makerspaces/hackerspaces around us. To local doctors, the Pays de Gex medical centres, local hospitals, and the Mairies around us we make this simple statement.
"If you need us, we will help".If any of this will help you, contact us at fablab[at]panglosslabs.org and we will be in touch to discuss your precise needs. And if it turns out that we have all the medical equipment we need, so much the better, we will stay home like everyone else.