Newswise — Limbitless Solutions, based at the University of Central Florida, has started 3D printing components of face shields health care workers and first-responders responding to the COVID-19 so desperately need.
The non-profit, established in 2014, empowers confidence in children and increases accessibility for those in the limb difference community by manufacturing personalized 3D printed bionic arms. The organization’s lab on the UCF main campus produces these arms currently being evaluated in clinical trials, but in light of the pandemic has shifted its operations to join a national coalition working to provide protective equipment to those who need it most.
“We are honored to be a small part of a network committed to supporting our medical community,” says Albert Manero ’12 ’14MS ’16PhD, CEO and co-founder of Limbitless Solutions. “They are the real heroes, serving the community selflessly.”
Limbitless connected with Stratasys, the 3D printer company that created the coalition. Stratasys is working with multiple hospitals and organizations nationwide. The company had optimized the design for the machines available, so the pivot to shift operations temporarily was able to be done quickly.
On March 26, two Limbitless staffers began producing visors, a component of the disposable face shield used by many medical workers. The first 100 arrived at Orlando Health April 7 and the team plans to produce between 100-200 visors per week. Each visor will feature one of four special messages: "hope," "compassion," "love" or "we thank you."
“The messages are meant to thank and pay tribute to those doing life-saving work during the pandemic,” says Manero. “We have reduced operations in the lab to promote social distancing and to abide by Orange County’s stay at home order. We knew we could still be part of helping our community. We will continue to work safely during this challenging and disruptive time, continuing to support our bionic kids, our team, and those who are directly impacted by the virus.”
How it works
Limbitless is participating as a "remote production site" by 3D-printing a piece of the face shield for final assembly and distribution by Stratasys. The disposable face shields are described as a “consumer barrier product,” not Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) or a medical device. These shields are in high demand with the coalition already receiving requests for more than 300,000 from medical providers. The face shields, unlike masks or respirators, provide a physical barrier, but not a fluid or air filtration, barrier for the medical staff.
Once the components are printed, a delivery company will pick up the boxes following social distancing protocols and healthcare guidelines and transport them to another location for assembly and final distribution. The entire coalition looks to deliver an initial 5,000 shields to critical need locations nationwide over the next week.
“Limbitless was founded when a community need intersected with our capabilities, says Dominique Courbin ’18 Director of Production and co-founder of Limbitless Solutions. “Even when we didn’t know ‘how’, it was never a question ‘if’ we would help. We hope to use that same spirit to support those who serve now.”
Stratasys has set up a web page where organizations can request 3D printed products to help with the crisis, offer 3D printing capacity or request 3D printers or material for medical or safety related purposes. Visit www.stratasys.com/covid-19.
“In these unpredictable times, the team is grateful for the opportunity to help create #3DHope for the global community and the medical professionals,” Manero says.
About Limbitless Solutions
Limbitless Solutions is a non-profit organization founded in 2014 by then University of Central Florida (UCF) students. Dedicated to empowering children in the limb difference community, Limbitless creates personalized, creative, and expressive 3D-printed bionic arms. Limbitless Solutions believes that no family should be financially burdened because their child has a limb difference.
Limbitless Solutions’ main projects - Bionic Arms, Project Xavier, and Accessibility Training Video Games - all center around empowering confidence in the lives of individuals living with certain limitations. Located on the UCF campus in Orlando, Florida, Limbitless Solutions provides undergraduate students a chance to engage in their lab, allowing them to expand their professional development, while at the same time work together to create a more inclusive future.
Stratasys is a global leader in additive manufacturing or 3D printing technology and is the manufacturer of FDM®, PolyJet™, and stereolithography 3D printers. The company’s technologies are used to create prototypes, manufacturing tools, and production parts for industries, including aerospace, automotive, healthcare, consumer products and education. For more than 30 years, Stratasys products have helped manufacturers reduce product-development time, cost, and time-to-market, as well as reduce or eliminate tooling costs and improve product quality. The Stratasys 3D printing ecosystem of solutions and expertise includes 3D printers, materials, software, expert services, and on-demand parts production. Online at: www.stratasys.com.