Protecting medical personnel is a top priority in the Covid-19 pandemic. Protective clothing was not available in the intensive phase of the pandemic or was not of a suitable quality. Thanks to the initiative of Univ.-Prof. Dr. Christian Ramsauer, head of the Institute of Innovation and Industrial Management at Graz University of Technology and his deputy Dr. Hans Peter Schnöll in cooperation with Univ.-Prof. Dr.Dr. Philipp Metnitz, head of the Clinical Department for General Anesthesiology, Emergency and Intensive Care Medicine at the Med Uni Graz, the IIM-Team was able to develop and deliver a large amount of urgently needed face shields for the KAGes within a short time.
Within the production of the pilot series in the Schumpeter Laboratory for Innovation, 5,000 protective shields were produced by operating more than 30 3D printers. The 3D printing capacities of the institute were supplemented by additional printers from other institutes of TU Graz, the ÖH and private persons. Up to 400 protective shields could be produced per day. The protection shields were tested by doctors during operation, checked from a hygienic point of view by the responsible KAGes authority and approved for the use in non-surgical areas.
The protective shields are reusable and can be easily cleaned and disinfected. The protective shield of the pilot series essentially consists of three components: The carrier part of the shield is made from PLA plastic using the FDM 3D printing process. In the pilot series, the visor itself consists of a commercially available overhead film, which is punched using a DIN A4 four-hole punch and fixed to the carrier part. If necessary, this enables the visor to be exchanged or cleaned easily. The protective shield is attached with a length-adjustable, washable, rubber band. The CAD data is available on the homepage of the IIM Institute at www.iim.tugraz.at.
The protective shield, developed together with doctors from several hospitals and produced in a pilot series, was subsequently developed into a series product together with the Styrian company PAYER Medical. It offers effective protection against a droplet infection through an optimized shape of the visor and has been optimized in particular with regard to safe reuse by simple cleaning and disinfection. The product is certified and approved as personal protective equipment according to EN 166. PAYER Medical guarantees the highest quality standards through production in compliance with the medical standard ISO 13485. The protective shield "PAYERprotect" is produced in Austria with a short and stable supply chain to support the medical field and all those who need special protection when dealing with others. More information is available at www.payergroup.com.
This project showed the great potential of combining the strengths and opportunities of the maker community, industry and university research. Bottlenecks in the supply of protective equipment were quickly eliminated and the long-term availability of the product was ensured through series development.