SUSANNA ANBU

The Library MakerSpace in The Department of Library Services at the University of Pretoria (UP), is known for boasting a myriad of creative initiatives formulated by individuals with innate technical ability. Now, the MakerSpace has been tasked with producing 3D printed visor frames for facial shields used by health workers who are testing and treating members of the public for COVID-19 in the Gauteng province.

Netcare appealed to individuals who possessed 3D printers in the Gauteng region to assist with the initiative. The print setting for the model were supplied and it was requested that after a trial of printing ten masks, a Google form be completed to enable a Netcare ambulance to collect the masks in the specified area. Isak van der Walt, Manager of Digital Scholarship & Innovation Digital Services & Systems at UP’s Department of Library Services, was tagged on Facebook by colleague who had requested his assistance for the initiative. “I knew we have the capacity to do this, and wanted to make the contribution,” he explained. UP’s TuksNovation, led by Anea Burk le Roux, is expected to aid in additional printing as demand starts to accumulate. The call for printing of the visor frames was open to anyone who possessed a 3D printer, and lived in the Gauteng region.

 

“I knew we have the capacity to do this, and wanted to make the contribution”

 

In order to conduct a faster printing process, van der Walt opted for an open source model of the frame that was supplied on social media by Netcare. The standard model allowed the center to print a frame within an hour, contrary to the typical two hours it takes to print. The material used to print the frames is Super Polylactic Acid plastic, a type of non-toxic plastic that is cost effective and versatile. The trial print run conducted on 29 March yielded eight sets of frames. Sean Kruger, one of the MakerSpace coordinators, ascertains that “with our capacity we will be able to produce twenty a day”.

Van der Walt mentions that the UP MakerSpace contribution goes towards community upliftment, and believes that we have the resources in the country to help our own communities. He cites having two family members associated with the healthcare industry as the impetus for his personal involvement in the initiative. He said that we depend on health care professionals at this crucial time and that we must all play our part in helping them wherever we can.The initiative conducted by the UP MakerSpace Centre illustrates the ease at which the demands of a problem can be adhered to and how social media plays a vital role in coalescing technical minds to formulate solutions. Members of the public who possess 3D printers and would like to aid in the production of visor frames are encouraged to contact Isak van der Walt at Isak.vanderwalt@up.ac.za.

The UP MakerSpace centre has boasted a range of innovations that interweave technology and learning. The printing of 3D ticks for the Faculty of Veterinary Science, replicas of the Homo Naledi skull and lion teeth imitations are a few projects conduct at the MakerSpace.

 

visual: Zurika Raubenheimer

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