Frontline healthcare workers fighting COVID-19 have been thrown a lifeline by the region’s 3D-printing community, which is producing thousands of face shields for at-risk medical staff.
Led by experts from the University of Southern Queensland (USQ), the Toowoomba-based group plans to make 300 shields within the next few weeks. It comes after more than 70 per cent of Queensland doctors reported having insufficient Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) in a survey released by the Australian Medical Association (AMA) Queensland earlier this month.
The statewide shortage prompted local 3D printing business owners to rally together to tackle the issue. USQ 3D printing expert Stephanie Piper said making sure the shields could be used multiple times was vital. Each face shield takes around 1.5 hours to print, and is comprised of two main parts – a headband and an A4 sized plastic sheet which attaches to the headpiece.
“It’s more economical, quicker and safer for medical staff if we make the PPE reusable. It means we have less waste and fewer people going without. Face shields are different from facemasks because they cover the mouth and nose as well as the eyes, making them more resistant to sprays,” Ms Piper said. “As soon as we received the approved face shield prototype it was all systems go. So far, we’ve had help from the Australian Defence Force, Reality 3D Printing, Vital Image Graphics, RDH Integration Services and more.”
Darling Downs PPE, as the group has come to be known, is working around the clock to supply the equipment. Dr John Lamb, a General Practitioner at Toowoomba’s Seven Springs Medical Centre, said the additional PPE would be gratefully received by frontline staff. If you would like to submit a need for PPE in primary or allied health, or have local manufacturing capacity, visit www.ddppe.net.
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