How 3D-printers can help fight the pandemic

by Tina Larsen

In the end of March 2020, the Norwegian health care system expressed that they lacked enormous amounts of protective equipment as a result of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Henrik Wille, a former student at The School of Entrepreneurship at NTNU, wanted to see if there was anything that he could do to meet these needs. Since he has earlier experience with 3D-printing, he quickly started to wonder if 3D-printers could be used. He knew that there were a lot of people with access to 3D-printers that wanted to help. “I thought it would be a smart idea to engage these people together, and that I could take the responsibility to organize the initiative and drive it forward”, Wille said.

Therefore, he gathered the makers (people with access to 3D-printers that wanted to contribute) so that they could be a united front. He created MAKERS MOT COVID-19. The group is an effort to respond to the lack of protective equipment that the health care system is experiencing. After speaking with health care workers and hospital procurement, Henrik Wille discovered that the greatest need was facial visors. Luckily, this was also something that was possible to design and produce by using 3D-printers.

Henrik Wille, the initiator behind MAKERS MOT COVID-19

After mapping the need and engaging people with access to 3D printers, Henrik Wille needed to settle two things.

First, we had to ensure that everyone in the group produced the same design. Second, we had to set up an ordering system that connected us to the health care system.

Henrik Wille

In consultation with a medical center in Kolbotn, they tested solutions and iterated on the model until it was complete. Further, they developed an ordering system where people from the health care system could put in their orders and people with access to 3D-printers could accept them. They then started producing facial visors by using 3D-printers and as of today, they have produced a total of 30 313 visors (numbers gathered 21/04-20). The visors are distributed free of charge to the health care institutions for use in the fight against the pandemic.

delivered facial visors and orders

Taking action

Henrik Wille expressed that the things he learned from NTNU School of Entrepreneurship have been invaluable in a process like this. “Everyone can have an idea, but it’s all about turning it into action. That’s a mindset I learned from The School of Entrepreneurship”, Wille said.

He noticed there were people that wanted to contribute, but that they didn’t know how. He had an idea and took action. After posting his ideas about how 3D-printers could contribute against the pandemic on different groups on Facebook, he got great feedback and it quickly escalated to something that everyone wanted to join. “If you have an idea, find the first place to test out the idea, get feedback and get people to join you”, Wille said.

Help the makers fight the pandemic

So far, the voluntary makers have used money from their own pockets to make the visors. Because this is not sustainable in the long run, they have started a fundraising campaign. If you want to contribute to this great cause, please follow this link to make a donation: 3d19.no/spleis 

How the facial visors are made