Campus and Community

Técnico researchers produce medical shields to fight Covid-19

In the past few days, a team of researchers has increased efforts to produce 3D medical shields that will protect the healthcare professionals.

A team of Técnico researchers led by professors Paulo Peças and Marco Leite, from the Department of Mechanical Engineering (DEM), developed a prototype of medical shields for the professionals who are at the forefront of the fight against Covid-19. After the prototype validation, the team started printing the medical shields and now launches the challenge to anyone who owns 3D printers to join this project that puts technology at the service of medicine.

“We are aware of this Covid-19 problem, and we wanted to help in some way. A week ago, we started to identify the components and parts that were missing and, with the collaboration of the Faculty of Medicine [Universidade de Lisboa], we concluded that these medical shields were lacking”, explains the professor Paulo Peças. “We started to design our shields with some specific characteristics, although the model is based on a project that already exists”, he adds.

“The model produced by Técnico combines and recombines designs that currently exist on the Internet, such as a model developed by Prusa (Spain), a model created in a Swedish university and a model developed by ISEP”, explains  professor Marco Leite.

The model produced by Técnico has an important specificity in this current time of crisis and scarcity of materials. “The common acetate that acts as a protective barrier can be easily placed/replaced, so that it can be easily changed whenever needed, by just using a new pre-punched acetate. These medical shields are easily reusable and this is what differentiate our product from others”, highlights professor Paulo Peças.

Several Técnico researchers have already joined this project. “I still can’t say how many people are involved, but I believe that 20/30 researchers are starting to produce medical shields”, says the DEM professor. “We have also the support of Fórum Mecânica, which is helping us to collect material and to prepare the acetate. The other Técnico student groups can also play a very important role in this project”, stresses the Técnico professor.

This Wednesday, March 25, the team has already managed to deliver a batch of medical shields to Hospital Professor Doutor Fernando Fonseca, in Amadora. Today, a shipment will be delivered to Hospital de Santa Maria. “These deliveries are made according to requests we receive. I wish we could deliver more and more”, says professor Paulo Peças. To this end, anyone who has 3D printers should join this solidarity movement.

According to professor Marco Leite “the model was developed in order to take full advantage of 3D printers and materials existing at Técnico”. The professor also highlighted “the outstanding support of FILKEMP, which was willing to offer filament”. However, according to the professor Técnico, filament is becoming scarce , so  it will be necessary to get the full support of  everyone. “At this moment, it is estimated that there is a shortage of PLA [material that is being used in visors manufacturing], so I also appeal to the industrial community for help, by sending us this material or providing financing so that we are able to acquire it”, says professor Paulo Peças.

At this stage, researchers are also “making available a new model, compatible with the previous one, which allows a better and simple adjustment of elastic straps, as well as to slightly improve the manufacturing time”, as Professor Marco Leite says.

In order to maintain the necessary social distance, the batches of ten units will be delivered twice a day at Técnico – Alameda campus. The health care services will be responsible for sterilizing the material.

We ask Técnico nearby community that have access to FDM 3D Printers for collaboration in order to increase daily production.

Manufacturing Recommendations – FDM

STL Download

Medical shields assembly instructions

Steps for cutting acetate

STL Pin

Material: PLA or PetG

Layer thickness 0.2

20% fill level

Number of contour crafting: 2

Number of top and bottom layers: 2

Does not require support

BRIM should not be used

Printing time is around 3h.

These parameters have to be adapted according to the printer.

Delivery instructions

Delivery in batches of 10 units must be made at Técnico – Alameda campus, Main building, room C01, every weekday, from 11:00 to 12:00 and from 16:30 to 17:30.

Contacts:

Paulo Peças: ppecas@tecnico.ulisboa.pt

Marco Leite: marcoleite@tecnico.ulisboa.pt