When the new coronavirus pandemic arrived, no one was really prepared. At ISR-Lisboa, we started brainstorming solutions almost immediately after the virus reached Portugal and searching for ways to contribute. One of the first hypotheses was to produce equipment for health staff, who were lacking in such important protections as masks, gloves, and visors.
By mid-March, several projects for 3D printed visors – liked 3D mask PT – were already ongoing, both in Portugal and internationally, as the maker and engineering communities decided to help any way they could. Here’s the timeline of how we contributed to those efforts at ISR-Lisboa:
24/03 – At this time there were a couple of versions online for 3D printed medical visors. Our technician, Ricardo Nunes, adapted them for one of our 3D printers and giving feedback to the team “RC1 version lets you fit more printed parts on a single print bed. However, if the maximum yield isn’t the priority, RC2 provides slightly better protection and is more comfortable to wear.”
At Instituto Superior Técnico a group of researchers had also started to mobilize the various departments and research units to build as many of these masks as possible and deliver them to professionals in need. Learn more about their efforts here.
25/03 – We had the first printed prototypes! These were taking an hour of printing time while still being optimized. The same day we received a direct call from a close partner institution that cares for the elderly. By then technician Ricardo Nunes had printed about 20 units, which were assembled with help from Heitor Cardoso and José Santos-Victor.
26/03 – Ricardo Nunes got a hold of a second 3D printer from ISR-Lisboa and we aimed at doubling production. By this time the Técnico initiative had already printed hundreds of units and partnered with several Hospitals and care facilities. After adapting their files and gathering all the materials the ISR-Lisboa printers were now optimized and another 23 units were delivered at IST.
27/03 – By Friday dozens of version 2 masks were being printed systematically by Ricardo and assembled with all the materials by Heitor.
28/03 – On Saturday we received a thank you note from the Chief Nurse of the institution where we first delivered the visors. “In the name of the hospitable community, we don’t have words to express how thankful we are. We feel more protected and emotionally stable since we take care of patients while using these visors”. With this boost of confidence, the team optimized production even more, by adapting details to print them faster and making efforts in terms of the assembly, so that the visors would be more comfortable to use during long working hours
03/04 – Another batch of 90 units produced and delivered. This meant that by the start of April we had produced about 200 medical visors which were all assembled and delivered to medical staff.
By this time the Técnico initiative had printed almost 1000 visors and offered them to several health units and Hospitals. By April 6 they achieved a massive increase in production, by partnering with RapidTool and TJ Moldes (more about that here) which means that hundreds of visors will be delivered daily.
Another kind of exponential growth
Everyone’s efforts were made clear in the exponential rate in which the number of visors produced kept increasing. To José Santos-Victor this is a symbol of commitment and overcoming by so many:
At ISR-Lisbon, we produced around 200 visors, a generous effort by Ricardo Nunes and Heitor Cardoso, and we witnessed the recognition of health professionals who are at the forefront of this terrible battle. But this exponential represents much more:
– The exponential of health professionals who multiply in strength, dedication, and commitment to take care of us all.
– The exponential of professionals in distribution, commerce, waste collection, security, and so many other services, that keep society functioning.
– The exponential of schools and universities, which reinvented themselves in just a few days to keep classes running online. At Técnico alone, we have 500 courses working that way. Daily.
– The exponential of students who responded immediately and actively participate in teaching models that we are discovering together.
– The exponential of administrative services in the state and in companies that ensure the continuation of operations that are often invisible, but vital.
– The exponential design of visors, fans, apps, data modeling, test development and many other things in which the scientific, technological and business community has endeavored and endeavors to fight the pandemic.
– The exponential of small-big gestures of all those who care about the most fragile and, in a creative and inspiring way, try to give them the necessary support (medicines, meals, a word).
– The exponential of those who stay at home, on telework, inventing conditions, taking care of young children, in the confinement necessary to stop the spread of the virus and contributing to the adequate response of the health system.
– It is the exponential of an entire Portugal that is not resigned, that resists and embraces solidarity, of a whole Europe and the entire World who stand up and fight. This is the reason why our exponential is doomed to continue growing, at an accelerating pace and will win in the end