3D printing helping to make protective equipment to help fight coronavirus

Posted at 4:56 PM, Apr 03, 2020

The whirring of this 3D printer is normal to hear in the lab where Ebrahim Asadi works at the University of Memphis, but this isn’t a typical assignment.

“We have five 3D printers on campus, printing 20 frames per day,” said Asadi.

Like most of us, Asadi, who runs the 3D printing program at the university, has had to make adjustments during the coronavirus pandemic. But he’s using his time to help the hospitals in Tennessee, like Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital.

“The face shields, which is what they produced for us, are not things that we keep in large volumes,” said Dr. Barry Gilmore.

Dr. Gilmore is one of the doctors leading the fight at Le Bonhuers.

“We have a number of children that are inpatients that are under investigation, none that are positive at this time,” said Gilmore.

So far Asadi has dropped off 52 shields at Le Bonhuer. Prior to that, the hospital only had 120 face shields. Normally, the masks are one-time use, but these masks can be used up to 10 times safely.

“What we essentially ended up getting was that we ended up getting 520,” said Dr. Gilmore.

By just replacing the plastic, each headband can be used 10 times, where as before they were disposed of after one use.

"It's a simple thing, you have to put the face shield there, make sure it's at it's place, nothing is broken, then reuse it," said Asadi.

Asadi is working on making more masks for Le Bonheur and hospitals around the state.

“We ship them to a centralized facility. Then, they work with the state emergency agencies. Those emergency agencies receive the request from hospitals, clinics that need it," said Asadi.

He’s hoping to help keep health care workers healthy, so they can keep working hard to keep patients healthy.

“I feel like I was lucky that there was something else that I could do that actually can help. I really feel blessed for it. That I can do something to help," he said.