I know many readers are frantically helping with the crisis through 3D printing, and I found two videos that you should watch.
The crisis has driven many 3D printer operators to help by 3D printing devices, machines, components and other necessary items. Hopefully the parts produced are acceptable to and needed by the respective medical authorities.
There are two videos I’ve recently encountered that could provide some interesting light on this type of emergency work.
3D Printed Ventilator Design
The first is from Real Engineering, a YouTube channel dedicated to explaining the engineering behind key designs in history and the current day. The channel, produced by Irish engineer Brian McManus, explains engineering concepts in a language anyone can understand.
One of McManus’ recent videos explores the idea of 3D printing (or making using any technology) an emergency ventilator. We’ve all heard that the virus spread in some regions is so intense that hospitals are running out of critical ventilators. That’s a bad scene and everyone would like to avoid it. Thus some have decided they’d give ventilator design a try.
That’s a really bad idea, at least according to McManus, who turns out to have previously worked for an actual ventilator manufacturer, and who knows how complex these devices truly are.
Please watch this video to understand the complexity of the ventilator problem. Those who don’t know the facts of ventilators may be causing more harm.
Optimizing 3D Printing Medical Components
If ventilators cannot be produced by 3D printers, what can be made? The community is now focusing on face shields, which protect medical professionals from accidental splashes of infected material. In some regions these are in short supply and local 3D printers have stepped up to produce large quantities of them.
I tried my hand at 3D printing one of these face shields to see how challenging it could be. While the 3D print completed successfully, it was over five hours in duration! To produce only one unit!
That’s terrible productivity and really wouldn’t make much difference to solving the equipment shortage.
But then I encountered a very intriguing video from Stefan Hermann of CNC Kitchen, who has turned his small inventory of operational 3D printers into a production line for face shields.
Hermann also found that by using default settings the print of a face shield component would take many hours. Like me, he considered this unacceptable. But then he figured out how to optimize the print settings.
Some of his optimizations are obvious: increase the layer size and tweak up the print speed.
But a number of his tricks are definitely NOT obvious. Even seasoned 3D printer operators would find some of Hermann’s very obscure tuning methods useful.
Hermann was able to reduce the print time of his face shield model down to under one hour duration. This significantly increased his 3D printer output, as he applied the same tuning principles to each of his different 3D printer models.
This is valuable information for anyone attempting to rapidly produce 3D printed medical equipment. Or anything in volume, for that matter. If you’re actively producing items, please view the video and you may be able to double your production rate — or more.