3D printing against coronavirus
On April 8, the Makerlab and CUC Fablab Laboratories of the University of Illinois organized the international webinar on «3D Printing for Local Response to COVID-19». It was aimed at the experience exchange and demonstration of how it is possible to satisfy the need for personal protective equipment to combat infectious viral diseases, such as COVID-19 using 3D printing and other digital manufacturing technologies.
During the webinar, the representatives of the universities of Argentina, the USA, Honduras shared their practices in the field of 3D printing and creating personal protective equipment. Special attention was paid to the speech of a Spanish student, who noted that now in Spain everyone who has 3D printers collectively create printed screen masks and deliver them to medical institutions.
One of the possible designs is a screen mask. As the protective substrate we can use a polycarbonate sheet or other transparent flexible plastic. The holder of this sheet is printed on a 3D printer and assembled as a constructor (photo 1). The second design for printing are holders for ordinary masks. The holder is placed on the back of the head and the eyes of the mask are attached to it. Printing such a holder for an ordinary mask can take about 10-15 minutes (photo 2). There is also a kind of masks with the ability to change filters (photo 3).
Sergei Dubkov, senior researcher at the Institute of Advanced Materials and Technologies, took part in the webinar and gave an additional comment: «This webinar raised the important question of why scientists will not make special plastic with disinfectant properties? The main difficulty is that in the context of a general shortage of primary personal protective equipment, there is no time to research and manufacture new materials, so you have to use proven processing technologies and focus on developing the most effective designs. Currently we use ordinary commercial plastics such as ABS and PLA.
Scientists know materials with antibacterial properties – this is titanium oxide, particles of silver and copper. In the future it will possible to incorporate them into plastic using special technologies, but this is a matter of time, since the finished product will require additional testing before it becomes possible to provide it for medical purposes. Our Institute of Advanced Materials and Technologies has experience in manufacturing this type of composite materials, and my colleagues and I are planning to conduct further development. The work can be divided into three stages, if we are talking about plastic for FDM printing, that is, 3D printing, which uses plastic in the form of a bar.
The first stage is the development of a method for the synthesis of a material with antibacterial properties in the required form - particles, fibers, tubes. The second stage is the introduction of the material into a plastic matrix, for example, in ABS, PLA or other plastic. The third stage is the development of plastic extrusion parameters and the selection of optimal parameters for printing on a 3D printer.
It is important to note that at our Institute we develop two grant projects, where materials based on titanium oxide, which can be used as an antibacterial material, are being studied».