I-Form Uses 3D Printing to Bridge Personal Protective Equipment Gaps in Fight Against COVID-19

I-Form, the SFI Research Centre for Advanced Manufacturing, is using its expertise in additive manufacturing (3D printing) to provide much-needed PPE (personal protective equipment) to frontline staff working across the health service in Dublin.

Since 27 March, I-Form researchers based at University College Dublin (UCD) have been focused on meeting the immediate need for PPE among health professionals fighting the spread of Coronavirus – starting with the 3D printing of face shields.

The I-Form team, along with UCD engineering colleagues, responded to a direct request for this particular item of PPE from Tallaght University Hospital, and have made and donated 300 face shields to the hospital this week.  

Dr Andrew Dickson, a postdoctoral researcher at I-Form said, “Myself and my colleagues at I-Form and UCD spent all weekend in our lab, taking it in shifts to ensure social distancing, and by Sunday night we had produced 300 face shields for Tallaght University Hospital.”

“Working as a team, we took existing designs and optimised them to produce one part every 17 minutes. We are continuing this work and, as of today, we have produced and donated 600 face shields to frontline staff across Dublin.”

Professor Denis Dowling, Director, I-Form, said, “Additive manufacturing (3D printing) is a highly adaptable technology that can be quickly harnessed to meet an immediate need. It enables local production at relatively low cost. As an SFI Research Centre, we are doing what we can to use our manufacturing expertise and infrastructure to help protect healthcare workers fighting COVID-19 on the frontline.”

I-Form is also donating face shields to HSE COVID-19 testing centres around the greater Dublin area, along with other hospitals in the city. Discussions are also underway with two nursing homes to provide this equipment.

Other areas under investigation by researchers at I-Form include the production of protective goggles and ventilator-related technological aids.