Volunteers Needed to Make Life Saving Equipment

Monday, April 13, 2020

The UCSF Makers Lab is once again paving the way in innovation by creating crucially needed personal protective equipment in the form of face shields for medical workers treating COVID-19 patients.

Additionally, the Makers Lab is also working on coding graphical user interface (GUI) for 3D printed ventilators, and they need knowledgeable volunteers to step up. Anyone able to code a professional level graphical user interface (GUI), and would be willing to do this for locally fabricated ventilators is asked to reach out to Eric Lam of the KAVLI-PBBR Fabrication and Design Center at eric.lam@ucsf.edu.

Lam, a UCSF School of Medicine assistant professor, biochemistry and biophysics, sent an email to students within the Neuroscience Graduate Program with the details.

“There is an electronic pressure sensor that will be plugged into some simple ventilators to measure pressure, tidal volumes, etc. and alert the staff if they fall below threshold limits,” he stated. “These need relatively large displays that can be seen from a distance so nurses and doctors can glance at them and know they are okay. Because of that, simple lightweight GUI’s that have large font (and probably touchscreen capability to set thresholds) are needed.”

As for the face shields, anyone can do it, said Lam.

“They are requesting volunteers to help run the machines that will be set up in the Parnassus library,” he said.

UCSF departments need 300+ face shields per day, but manufacturers of PPE equipment are currently unable to meet the demand.

On March 19, UCSF Clinical Technologies reached out to the Makers Lab to start manufacturing face shields for UCSF and Bay Area hospitals. After creating a model, workflow, and receiving approval from multiple UCSF departments, the UCSF Library is now being used to 3D print, wash, and assemble more than 300 face shields a day, according to the UCSF Library website.

Now, 3D printing and other additive manufacturing technologies are being used to fill the gaps in the PPE supply chain.

“A coordinated effort is needed to supply the necessary equipment and ensure that equipment is approved for use in the healthcare environment,” states the website. “All of the Makers Lab’s 3D printers and others from the UCSF community are being used to 3D print the face shields.

The UCSF face shield uses an 8.5”x11” transparency sheet which is readily available and interlinked rubber bands, which are replaceable as needed and easier to source than buttonhole elastic.

The UCSF Library notes that face shield production will comply with FDA guidance regarding medical face masks and respirators.

“FDA recognizes that, when alternatives, such as FDA-cleared masks or respirators, are unavailable, individuals, including healthcare professionals, might improvise PPE. FDA does not intend to object to individuals’ distribution and use of improvised PPE when no alternatives, such as FDA-cleared masks or respirators, are available,” reads a statement from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Any organizations with access to 3D printing equipment that would like to contribute to the production of face shields, can print any of the designs listed on the UCSF Library web page. Send an email to 3dfaceshields@ucsf.edu to coordinate drop-offs or shipping.

Individuals can also support the face shield project by contributing to our crowdfund campaign.