RWTH Supports the Fight Against the Corona Pandemic

24/03/2020

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The Fab Lab of RWTH Aachen University makes its 3D printers, laser cutters, and other digital production machines available for the rapid production of urgently needed parts in the medical sector.

 

In the fight against the corona pandemic, items such as visors for doctors, emergency ventilators for hospitals, and forearm door handles for office doors can be produced. The parts reach local and regional institutions that need to maintain their operations. The researchers are thus part of a worldwide community organized via social media, where it collects 3D designs for emergency equipment, evaluates their necessity and medical suitability, and then has them produced locally by volunteers. The Fab Lab is supported by the State of North Rhine-Westphalia through the initiative Excellence Start-up Center.NRW at RWTH Aachen University.

Prototypes for the examples outlined above are now in production, and the Fab Lab is already working with Uniklinik RWTH Aachen. The team is now seeking contact with other hospitals and similar institutions in the region to meet their specific needs.

Forearm Door Handles Reduce the Risk of Infection

"We cannot supply certified medical products. But we can help provide for emergencies, where regular hospital stocks are no longer sufficient. Items such as forearm door handles reduce the risk of infection in offices at important institutions. “These are not medical products," explains Professor Jan Borchers, head of the Media Computing Group at RWTH, where the Fab Lab is located.

"From student assistants, technicians, and doctoral candidates to external volunteers, people are currently working on the 3D designs from home. The machines are only supervised by one person on site to minimize the risk of infection. Depending on the application, we use, for example, acrylic for parts from the laser cutter and other plastics for 3D printing. These materials are sufficiently available," adds Borchers.

The FabLab

The Fab Lab, short for Fabrication Laboratory, was opened in 2009 and was the only one of its kind in Germany for a long time. The aim is to provide the public with open and free access to modern digital manufacturing technologies and to create prototypes for research projects. "We had to stop our weekly Open Lab Days because of the coronavirus. Our initiative shows how digital manufacturing technologies in the Fab Lab can help to react extremely quickly in times of crisis. In Italy, human lives have already been saved in this way," says Borchers.

Further informations

Source: Press and Communications