Griffith 3D print experts create PPE for frontline workers

Griffith’s expertise and 3D printers are being used to help manufacture essential protective equipment for frontline health workers across Australia.

As part of a call-out by the state’s health authorities, hospital-grade designs were shared with volunteers with access to 3D printers.

Face shields and other personal protective equipment (PPE) are being created using 3D printers from a number of facilities and schools across the university to help maintain supplies during the COVID-19 crisis.

Griffith’s Advanced Design and Prototyping Technologies Institute (ADaPT) and Queensland College of Art (QCA) design studio are among the teams that swung into action this week, after a request for help from Metro North Hospital and Health Service.

Metro North operates five hospitals on Brisbane’s northside, including Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital and The Prince Charles Hospital.

ADaPT Manager Derek Smith

ADaPT Manager Derek Smith said it was perfectly placed to respond.

“ADaPT already works closely with the Gold Coast University Hospital on a range of projects, and we’ve been able to move fast to make PPE parts,” he said.

“We’re leading the different disciplines across the university that are working on this project, from design and engineering to health.

“It is fantastic to see our community rising to the challenge.”

QCA Technical Officers Chris Little and Alex Innocenti have been running several 3D printers around the clock, making hundreds of face shields over the past week.

“We’re one part of a very big project worldwide, but together, we can help frontline staff in the fight against COVID-19,” Chris said.

Dr Sam Canning

QCA 3D and Product Design convenor Dr Sam Canning has also just launched a project with students to improve available PPE designs.

“This is exactly the kind of project our students are trained for,” he said.

“We have so much expertise and the students will be flat out over the next few weeks designing customised products for medical professionals that fit better, are cost effective and reusable.”

Minister for Health and Minister for Ambulance Services Steven Miles said keeping frontline doctors, nurses and clinicians healthy and safe was the government’s top priority.

“Currently our PPE supplies across Queensland’s public health system are enough. But that won’t last forever, which is why increasing local manufacturing is so important,” the Minister said.

“Face shields are worn by health staff to protect their faces from a patient who may have the virus — ensuring an adequate supply is the best way we can safeguard our health heroes.”