ASU Network Connects Health Care Providers To Volunteers Making Protective Gear

By Nicholas Gerbis
Published: Friday, April 17, 2020 - 5:33pm

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Luminosity Lab
Preston Howell, an industrial design student in the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts, works on 3D modeling an N95 face mask.

A new online service from Arizona State University's Luminosity Lab connects providers like Banner Health and Dignity Health with volunteers who make much-needed personal protective equipment.

Using the PPE Response Network, verified health care providers — hospitals, clinics, nursing homes or other entities, such as a Native American community — can request face shields, medical gowns or nasal swabs.

Volunteers then pledge their time, their 3D printers and their sewing kits to providing the items.

Professionals sterilize and check the gear before use.

For quality assurance, the group also tracks how much equipment falls below par and then engineers improvements or removes providers of subpar equipment from the network.

Mark Naufel, who directs the student-run lab, said he wasn't sure how the students would react to the coronavirus crisis.

Julia Greteman
Luminosity Lab
Ira A. Fulton Schools of engineering first-year student Julia Greteman pulls a freshly printed face shield frame off a 3D printer. Greteman leads the production team.

"They were just absolutely filled with passion. They felt this calling. They felt like they needed to step in here and help out, and it was really incredible to see," he said.

The network offers a more organized way for healthcare providers to find equipment, but it also allows providers to choose where the fruits of their labor will go.

"We might have some people that are passionate about giving to a smaller clinic. And we have some individuals that are going to be really passionate about giving to the Native community that's being impacted pretty heavily by this," said Naufel.

The group began by rapidly producing PPEs — mainly face shields, which they could make with some of the lab's many 3D printers.

"We ended up sending a lot of those home to the students, so that they could be printing kind of night and day in their homes," said Naufel.

They then expanded their system to include faculty and labs across ASU. Today, more than 150 printers produce PPEs.

The lab also develops new PPE models, such as a 3D-printable N95 mask. Local hospitals and other clinical partners then test and validate the devices.

Naufel says the printers put out around 1,000 face shields per week — about half of their maximum capacity.

The group also manufactures 250 disposable face shields each day, but hopes to double that rate. These shields, which are made from household items, do not require 3D printing, only assembly.

"So really our call to action is that anyone can go and join this platform and engage. I think everyone at this time wants to be helpful. And so you really don't have to have a 3D printer to do that," said Naufel.

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Clinton Ewell
Clinton Ewell
Graduate research assistant Clinton Ewell works in Luminosity’s facilities at the Polytechnic campus, which stores their resin 3D printers. This printer type is currently being used to experiment with test swabs and ventilator splitters for R&D purposes.
Coronavirus Science