3D printers and robots adapted to biohazard can save lives, if doctors and IT workers get their hands on it. Virtual, of course

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The new technologies could provide unexpected help in the case of the epidemic with the new coronavirus and the international community has already mobilized intensely on social networks or in practice. And in Romania, researchers are reaching out to help doctors, hoping that together they will save lives.

In Europe, a first signal was given in Italy, the country so hard tried by COVID-19. The lack of valves for ventilators that helped patients breathe pushed a journalist from Giornale de Brescia to the founder of a technology company, who came to the hospital with a 3D printer and within a few hours printed the first valve, and then a few tens.”As we write, 10 patients breathe because of these valves“reports https://www.3dprintingmedia.network.

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Photo: Facebook / Cristian Fracassi

Of course, the violation of copyright law has been (and is still being discussed), the prince is a replica of an approved product, but we all live in exceptional times, in which governments take exceptional measures, and “people’s lives depended on us, so we acted immediately“, explained Cristian Fracassi, the founder of the company.The initiative was immediately taken over by another local company.

China has been thinking about 3D printing for the past two weeks now, still full of needs:

But in the rest of the world the idea caught on quickly, so the site was created shortly “3D printing, united for COVID-19”, a meeting place for doctors and manufacturers and users of 3D printers.

“We feel responsible to facilitate the free exchange of information, contributions, services and in general to help during this crisis. Hospitals and health systems around the world are experiencing an acute shortage of materials and will need equipment, cars. , devices and other components to save lives. 3D printing technology can replace interrupted or even damaged production chains.

Hundreds of thousands of professional manufacturers from all over the world have been enthusiastic about this initiative and are ready to provide their production capabilities for those who need them most, “is the message transmitted by the team 3dpbm, which provides contact details.

The idea is spreading with speed

One thing that is very frightening to doctors in most countries affected by COVID-19 is the small number of ventilators (essential devices for the survival of patients in serious condition) compared to the number of patients, especially as epidemiologists unanimously argue that this crisis will extend at least a few months.

The good news is that internationally things are moving very fast, from day to day. Wednesday, Forbes has published an article about the first prototype 3D printed mechanical fan for those affected by COVID-19, invented and in the approval phase in Ireland, to be tested soon.

For this prototype, one was opened Facebook special page, from where all those interested can be informed with the latest information:

Thursday, the company Copper3D launched a global campaign for 3D printing of large-scale antimicrobial masks, inviting production and distribution companies from around the world to a great collaboration and providing a prototype.

“It is likely for the first time in the history of 3D printing when the same design is massively downloaded in order to prevent loss of human lives,” says the source.

Also on Thursday, the Facebook group Open Source COVID19 Medical Supplies Dennis Bilik announces that he has moved to the production of a new type of protective medical masks, in just three days after the creation and printing of the first 3D model.

“Technological and digital literacy, as important as functional literacy”

And in Romania, the country now a few steps behind Italy on the path of COVID-19 evolution, things are slowly beginning to move.

Thus, contacted by Ziare.com, Andreea Paul, president of INACO (Initiative for competitiveness), emphasized once again that new technologies can prove useful during pandemics. In fact, the INACO website was published just a few days ago article right on this topic, in which are presented several innovative solutions that could be put into practice, among which: 3D printed ventilation systems, biosensors or Telehealth technology.

Also, INACO suggests that drones they could be used for drug delivery and consumables to quarantine, or they can disinfection on large areas of land. In addition, there is a Romanian prototype of robot that could do the disinfection in hospitals and beyond, Andreea Paul told us.

“Technological and digital literacy is proving to be as important today as functional literacy! We have been saying it for years. (…) I have discussed with those at the Institute of Nonferrous and Rare Metals, which prints 3D medical objects, he could now also make protective membranes for masks, “said Andreea Paul, but said that some of the products must first be tested and approved from a medical point of view.

Read more about how it can be used Artificial intelligence in the fight against this pandemic.

General manager Roxana Piticescu explained to us how it could come National Research and Development Institute for Nonferrous and Rare Metals (IMNR) in aid of the authorities fighting Covid-19.

“Such can be done membranes by 3D, by extrusion (injection printing), containing antibacterial materials. It can be a polymeric matrix. They are the so-called nanostructured hybrid materials. We obtain these in the institute, through our specific procedures, at low temperatures and high pressures, then we take them to 3D printing and we obtain these membranes.

But we were not asked for help. Only one company addressed us yesterday (Wednesday – n.red.), Considering our expertise in the field (to obtain such types of materials) and we are really trying now, with this company, to see if we can go a little further. , to the market “, explained Roxana Piticescu.

“We all want to help, as much as possible, in the fight with coronavirus”

3D printers exist in several institutions or private companies in Romania, everything is to be able to understand their usefulness, especially in times of epidemiological “war”.

And there is a lot of goodwill, too. Contacted by Ziare.com, prof. dr. ing. Nicolae Balc, dean of the Faculty of Machine Construction of the Technical University of Cluj-Napoca, he answered openly: “We all want to help, as far as possible, in the fight with coronavirus.”

For example, starting from the Italian example, Prof. Balc stated that the problem of 3D printing of the valves for fans “is not technically complicated”.

“We have AM (Additive Manufacturing – 3D Printing) equipment and can produce such valves quickly. I do not know if such spare parts are missing in Romania. If these valves are disposable, then many will probably be needed. (…) There are some materials from which we could produce them by 3D printing, but we have to talk with the doctors, to check if the materials are appropriate, and that the hospital will perform their sterilization, “explained the TCM dean.

Prof. Balc also pointed out that this is the advantage of 3D printing, “not only in acute crises, but also normally – it may shorten the time of developing new products”.

“If a company in Romania that produces medical equipment urgently starts to design a new type of ventilator (” Open Source “type say those from Forbes – so that there will be no intellectual property rights issues with the real medical ventilator manufacturers) , I can collaborate and my team can help design and manufacture prototypes for functional tests. Yes, if we can help, we will do it promptly! “, he added.

“Doctors define problems, we can partially solve them”

Just as jumping was also shown Catalin Bindea, the spokesperson for the volunteer community Code for Romania, which develops IT solutions for problems of public interest and recently launched several sites in the context of COVID-19.

Read more about other Companies and organizations in Romania that help out in the fight against COVID-19: Get involved!

Catalin put us in touch with two other young people working in the field.

Here are some of their opinions and proposals regarding the use of 3D printing technology.

“It’s not about thinking of a product, but rather about replicating it. When doctors run out of something, the big problem is actually the production and delivery, but if they need certain plastic components or parts, we can help (..) A good example would be those air tubes (if they need to be split, they need joints to disperse to more patients (…) But we cannot think about what the doctors need, because we are not a medical specialist.

We can also help factories, especially those factories that change their entire production process. There it is necessary and we can help with times and lower prices, “he told us Marius Cosmin, founder of Re-cycled and Wedoo.

“Unfortunately, no doctor has requested the help of the community until now,” he also told us Adrian Sandulescu, industrial designer at “Millimeter Factory”, who is convinced that we must first convince doctors “to discuss the shortcomings”.

That would be the most correct beginning: they define the problems, we can, partially, solve them(…) The medical area is, in fact, much more demanding and completely regulated (…) As an industrial designer, I tell you that you cannot do home what is done industrially without having to make a quality and costly discount. bigger. More important I think it would be to find out what companies can produce and what, locally (…) A respirator, for example, is an extremely complex device, and one with fewer functions can be deadly. I do not want to seem refractory, but, being an industrial designer, I know quite well the technological limitations (…) It would be interesting to have a dialogue with some doctors, anyway (…) “, Adrian Sandulescu explained to us.

“We go to rest now, and tomorrow we go to work!”

With all these (very well argued) retentions, small steps are also made in Romania, but decided beforehand.

“We managed to manufacture 136 visors tonight that we will distribute tomorrow to the doctors in Bucharest for their validation. 136 but this is a very small number compared to the demand that exists now. So we need you.

We have already joined the cause Node makerspace and We Mesh Up, which will help us in the production part. If you still know spaces that have a CNC laser, please contact us. Tomorrow we will also release a kit with the manufacturing files to be sent to other fablabs and makerspaces in the country, thus trying to increase the volume and reduce delivery times.

We are in talks with several NGOs to open a donation line. My colleague Vlad can give you more information. We need the following materials: PETG 0.5, EVA 10 sponge, velcro. Again, we need contacts if you know. We go to rest now, and tomorrow we get to work! “, He wrote on Wednesday evening, late, on Facebook, Mihai Toma, and the reactions and offers were impressive.

Thursday night, they came back with a new, equally encouraging post:

“We managed to cut 1,600 visors. We were joined by volunteers to help us assemble. The visors sent to physicians began to be tested and tested, including going through the decontamination process to see how they react. I launched the Viziere.ro page and the https://viziere.ro/ site to centralize all requests (…) “.

I can’t describe to you how cool you can be during the pandemic, working on a project that will help those who are now fighting in the front line. We receive requests for thousands of pieces from hospitals and doctors, call us people who want to donate money and materials, workshops that provide their production line, companies and organizations that want to financially support our approach“, posted Florin Cobuz.

“How can we help you? We have laser cutting equipment, 3D printers and CNCs in the workshop. If anyone needs our services, to build from scratch, to repair various parts, components needed to fight Covid-19, pro bono, give a message“, Facebook and Facebook announced FabLab.

Robots for the nuclear environment, adapted by Romanian researchers to COVID-19

On the other hand, Romeo Decu, the CEO Research Center in Thermodynamics and Computer Science, told us at large about the robot created for hostile environments, but quickly adapted to the current epidemic, which could come to the aid of medical professionals, but it all depends on the authorities managing the crisis:

“The project is basically about robots from hostile and hard to reach environments. We have developed a whole series of robots for the nuclear, oil and gas fields. After the outbreak of the epidemic we thought we could adapt the robots, why not, and for biohazard. I worked contractually, I contacted people in the medical field in January, but then the pandemic was far away, but everyone was interested, because, unquestionably, it is a useful solution and minimizes the risks, especially for medical personnel. In Italy almost a quarter of doctors have already contracted the virus.

We have studied the problem very much. Having experience with robots for difficult and very dangerous environments, automatically it was easy for us to figure out what could be done. A first step was the disinfection part, which is clear. Think about the doctors: Until they get dressed, then they stay warm in their suits … It’s cranky. Plus you have to sterilize very large surfaces.

We don’t talk about the usual instrumentation, we talk about whole rooms, entire quarantine areas. It’s very complicated. So, you have a robot, you let it go and it does all the work.

I walked on it dual solution – spray of biocidal substances and UV lamps – which should be more than enough. Studies in the field have proven this: UV lamps have been used for SARS and MERS and have been effective, and the spray comes to strengthen disinfection.

I tell you honestly, our project did not come from nowhere, I worked almost 20 people for him for 2 years. Now I just adapted it, quickly, for biohazard. To know that robots for biohazard are not very existent even in the world, there are very few countries that have developed such robots.

It is now in the prototype phase. We can do it in a month, two. If we find funds, in a month or two we can put it on the market. I passed the lab tests.

I contacted the authorities, but it all depends on the request. Let’s see the need and interest of hospitals, medical institutions.

Serial production? Also in about a month, it is very easy. It all depends on the funds for the prototype and then on getting the orders from the beneficiaries.

Being made modular, they can be customized, so it’s not about what we can do, but what they need. To know that, in general, this kind of technology develops in public-private partnership.

We took a step forward and said: This is our project. We tried to guide potential beneficiaries to know what we can offer.

But that’s the biggest problem. On the one hand, we say we can do anything, they say: We don’t know what we want, because we don’t know what the possibilities are. That’s how things get stuck. ”

Ziare.com will try to get a reaction from the authorities too. Who knows? Maybe together, specialists, journalists, doctors and politicians, we will be able to save lives in the battle with COVID-19.

See, for example, how 3D valves can be printed for heart operations or, in the future, even organs of the human body:

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