Newswise — The University of Central Florida, Orlando Health and 3D printing company Stratasys are leading an effort to rapidly 3D-print critical personal protective equipment (PPE) to ensure it is available for local healthcare professionals in their fight against COVID-19.
Researchers at UCF’s Prototype Development and 3D Print Lab have created new designs for use in state-of-the-art, continuous build 3D printers that allow medical shields, and eventually multi-sized respirator masks, to be rapidly produced, up to as many as 1,500 a day.
While UCF created the designs, the face shield production is carried out by Stratasys at other locations and then items are shipped to hospitals nationwide. The first shipment of 600 3D-printed shields arrived this week and were assembled onsite at Orlando Health to stock up their supplies.
“While we don’t currently have a shortage at Orlando Health, hospitals need to have backup plans if crucial supplies run low or run out at some point,” said Michael Schmidt, Orlando Health’s Managing Director for Strategic Innovations. “Our goal is to contribute to the collaborative dynamic taking place right now around the world and offer one possible solution to protect healthcare workers in the near term until suppliers can shore up the shortages.”
Stratasys is using its continuous build 3D printers, which print constantly without requiring a person to remove each item produced and reload material, thus greatly increasing production capacity. The 3D-printed face shield design was tested and approved by Orlando Health’s corporate safety, infection control and supply chain teams, as well as by physicians and nurses at Orlando Health Orlando Regional Medical Center.
The design for the respirator mask is still being finalized. After examining designs online, UCF researchers worked together to develop an improved model, printing to the contour of the face instead of a flat sheet, like current designs.
“We took anatomical measurements, 3D scans of a couple people and made conformable, fitting masks that were contoured to a face and then printed it in compliance with guidelines,” said Jack Stubbs, director of the Prototype Development and 3D Print Lab at UCF’s Institute for Simulation and Training. “It kind of pushes right on the face. And then you fit that to a cone that has a filter at the end of it.”
UCF researchers and Orlando Health technicians have developed and tested several designs and are close to a solution that will ultimately offer masks in multiple sizes, enabling them to be better tailored to healthcare workers’ faces. Once finalized, the respirator design will be sent to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for final approval.
About the University of Central Florida
The University of Central Florida is a public research university in Orlando, Florida. Founded in 1963, UCF and its 13 colleges offer more than 220 degree programs from the university’s main campus, downtown campus, hospitality campus, health sciences campus, online and through multiple regional locations. Enrollment reached 69,500 in Fall 2019, and the number of degrees conferred continues to exceed 16,000 each year. UCF is a model for providing access to higher education in the 21st century and an academic, partnership and research leader in numerous fields, such as optics and lasers, modeling and simulation, engineering and computer science, and video game design. According to U.S. News & World Report, UCF ranks among the nation’s 20 most innovative universities. UCF is also ranked as a best-value university by Kiplinger, as well as one of the nation’s most affordable colleges by Forbes. Learn more at www.ucf.edu.
About Orlando Health
Orlando Health is a not-for-profit healthcare organization with $5.6 billion of assets under management. The system spans nine Florida counties with nearly 450 locations that include 13 wholly-owned or affiliated hospitals and emergency departments; rehabilitation services, cancer centers, heart institutes, imaging and laboratory services, wound care centers, more than 300 physician offices for adults and pediatrics, and 11 urgent care centers in partnership with CareSpot Urgent Care. In FY18, Orlando Health served approximately 167,000 inpatients, more than 2.7 million outpatients, and more than 20,000 international patients. The organization is home to the area’s only Level One Trauma Centers for adults and pediatrics, and is a statutory teaching hospital system that offers both specialty and community hospitals. Nearly 3,600 physicians have privileges across the system, which is also one of the area’s largest employers with nearly 20,500 employees. Additionally, Orlando Health provides more than $620 million in total value to the community in the form of charity care, community benefit programs and services, community building activities and more. Additional information can be found at www.orlandohealth.com.