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UEA launches project to 3D print ventilator parts and masks

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Researchers at the University of East Anglia (UEA) have launched a project to 3D print ventilator parts, masks and other critical equipment to battle the Covid-19 virus.

They are working with the technology community to access 3D printers, as well people with the necessary skills to work at pace to design and make equipment.

The researchers are collaborating with healthcare providers to understand their needs, and hope to mobilise similar projects at other universities nationally and globally.

The project is to 3D print ventilator parts, masks and other critical equipment.
The project is to 3D print ventilator parts, masks and other critical equipment.

Project lead Dr Aram Saeed, from UEA’s School of Pharmacy, said: “It is absolutely vital that universities join forces with healthcare providers and businesses to find creative solutions to fight Covid-19.

“We need shortcuts to speed up the process of designing and developing key ventilator parts, and we hope to connect with other universities and expertise around the globe.

“It’s still very early days for this project, but the response so far has been amazing. It is very much a steep learning curve, but we have a fantastic team of researchers and PhD students working on this, and we will be using our academic networks to help solve the problem."

Prof Ben Garrod, from UEA's School of Biological Sciences, who is also involved with the effort, said: "We are in an unprecedented time in modern history and in facing such an unprecedented challenge, we need to respond with an unprecedented response, collaboration and effort.

“In the days, weeks and months ahead, our amazing NHS and its frontline staff are going to need all the help they can get and universities are in a very fortunate position in having the people, expertise and technology to be able to assist.

“The work being done here at UEA and across the Norwich Research Park will help provide supplies and equipment at a local and national level, but we need help.

"We need help from businesses, other universities, individuals and so many others right now and already the response has been amazing. Printing off ventilator components, specialist masks and other equipment will, I'm sure, help those frontline NHS staff save lives across the country in the time ahead."

The team are looking to collaborate with people with software skills – particularly Solidworks for CAD design, and those trained in 3D scanners and conversion of files to STIL files (printable version).

Prof Saeed said: “Right now we need help with software, hardware, medical product design, and product testing. We may also need support from engineering sectors for flow sensors, pneumatic units and data processing monitors.”

If you can help with the project, go to www.uea.ac.uk/about/-/ventilators

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