MADISON, WI (SPECTRUM NEWS) — Engineers and manufacturers in Madison are helping to address the shortage of personal protective materials for healthcare workers working on the Coronavirus outbreak.
Lennon Rodgers, director of the Grainger Engineering Design Innovation Lab at UW-Madison, said the University of Wisconsin Hospital first approached him last Monday about designing face shields for their hospital. They told Rodgers they needed 1,000 masks.
Rodgers first developed a prototype from a shield the hospital gave him, he made one out of a soda bottle. Then he started working with Delve, a design consulting firm, and Midwest Prototyping to improve the desing and produce them. On Monday UW-Madison announced the group filled the hospital's request for 1,000 shields.
The group “Open Sourced” the design, meaning they made instructions of how to develop it available online for anybody. You can view it here.
“We're also working with quite a few other people all over the country and even all over the world,” Rodgers said.
Rodgers has had conversations with companies all around the country and world hoping to use or improve the shield designs. Engineers without borders has worked to use the design.
Rodgers has also worked with Ford's manufacturing plant in Detroit.
“They're talking in the millions of units, and they're converting an assembly line and they're looking at suppliers and they're communicating with the plastic suppliers in Wisconsin,” Rodgers said.
Rodgers is also working to help connect companies that can work together in creating these masks. He's happy the design and instructions the group of Madison-based engineers and companies worked on can be used more broadly.
“It's neat the world we live in where you can release that type of design, work on a team, develop a design and then your team becomes the world,” Rodgers said.
The masks cost less than $3 each to make. While individuals can produce the masks, Rodgers said people shouldn't necessarily make them and give them to their local hospital unsolicited.
“We recommend you reach out to your local healthcare facilities and make sure that they actually have a need and that you pass whatever you are making through their infection control process, that's what we did with UW,” Rodgers said.
Medical providers can request face shields if they need on UW-Madison's website by filling out an intake form, here.
Rodgers said people across the university are also working to develop designs for more personal protective materials.