DATE:  March 25, 2020     CATEGORIES:  Blog, Community, COVID-19, News

March 25, 2020

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Somerville, MA — Area Makers Unite to Support Front-line Medical Workers

A network-powered effort has emerged in the Boston region to meet the demand for Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) in local healthcare organizations responding to COVID-19. This loose-knit group of engineers, artists, and makers has a node at the Artisan’s Asylum, a non-profit studio and fabrication facility in Somerville, MA.

Early input from clinicians, partner organizations like Fab@CIC and the Center for Bits and Atoms at MIT, and affinity groups like the recently organized Facebook group, Open Source COVID-19 Medical Supplies, have  informed us of several key deficits in PPE supplies.

This feedback has given us clear direction: Produce high volumes of low-cost PPE using distributed production methods.

By using (and in some cases adapting) open source designs and a hybrid model of disposable and reusable materials and components, makers organized at the Asylum and elsewhere are working to produce solutions that scale quickly and fill the current gap in commercial supplies. 

Artisan’s Has 5 Key Products in Development

  1. Disposable Face Shields
  • With placement of dozens of disposable face shields into the hands of doctors and nurses locally, orders are coming in for many more. Early feedback from our partner sites has allowed us to quickly iterate on improved designs.
  1. Reusable Face Shields
  • To reduce waste and lower long-term costs, we’re developing a reusable face shield designed for minimal machining to achieve higher production volume. It will be made from easily sterilized materials.
  1. Disposable Hospital Gowns
  • Reverse engineering and studying the design of commercial gowns, we have developed a pattern for an easily donned and doffed gown. We are experimenting with unconventional materials to source readily available supply.
  1. Reusable Hospital Gowns
  • Many hospitals permit reuse of gowns that can be sterilized. We’re building a cloth gown that can be washed between patient visits. 
  1. Disposable Surgical Masks
  • We are seeking materials and a method to produce surgical masks that can be worn over N95 and N99 masks to lengthen their usable lifespan. We can produce these in far greater volumes than respirators and believe this will have a greater impact.

The first of these products to be delivered to local health workers is the disposable face shield, originally developed at the University of Wisconsin maker space. With polycarbonate face plates cut by local laser cutter manufacturer Black Cat Labs, 100 units of the design have been delivered for local testing. If testing is successful, the team will begin work on its first standing order for 1,000 more.

For more information about the Artisan’s Asylum’s community-powered efforts to contribute to the COVID-19 response in partnership with local allies in Boston and around the world, visit: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1RZjSQrb27MLe6Q7aqKzvCx5K8m8ChFuDwqVTB_zm1SQ/edit?usp=sharing.

For more information about Artisan’s Asylum, visit: https://artisansasylum.com 

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Artisan’s Asylum envisions a world of makers. We imagine a whole society where everyone feels welcome to share their talents and ceaselessly develop their capabilities, contributing to the social, cultural and economic vibrancy of our communities.

Our mission as a non-profit community workshop is to advance the learning, practice and culture of do-it-yourself (“DIY”) fabrication. We strive to provide anyone with access to the tools and training necessary to develop creative confidence and build the things they love.

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A self-adhesive foam strip is fixed to a face shield using a jig designed by an Asylum member.

Volunteers assemble a limited production run of 100 disposable face shields at Artisan’s Asylum.