Arduino and 3D printers against the coronavirus: this is how makers from all over Spain have joined to avoid infections and save lives

In Spain we are reaching the hardest stage of the coronavirus: when the number of infected people who need healthcare and enter an ICU exceeds the capacity of the health system. Some hospitals are already beginning to be overwhelmed and the material is becoming scarce, which can translate into health personnel infected with a lack of PID, or in patients who die from not having a respirator that allows them to receive air when their lungs have stopped. as has already happened.

In Spain, several communities and groups have emerged that, either in an organized way or by joining individually to lean their shoulders in any way possible, have brought out their knowledge and their 3D printers in many cases to help curb the shortage of health care. . And not only through business consortia such as HP, Leitat and SEAT together with the Free Zone Consortium to manufacture respirators: also among ordinary citizens, with far fewer resources.

Respirator awaiting validation, and 3D printed protective masks

The latter is the case of Reesistencia Team, a work team that has worked together to create in less than a week (between March 14 and 20) a prototype respirator that is undergoing validation by the Government of Asturias. , the autonomy from which this project has started. If they finally get it, it will be this institution that finances its massive manufacturing.

These respirators replicate the operation of traditional ones, which activate bamboo - the inflatable bag that provides oxygen to the patient - and whose rhythm and depth can be adapted to the needs of the patient in question. They are based on the Jackson Rees system and in its manufacture there are four blocks: hardware, a software in the form of firmware soon published on Github, Arduino-based electronics and 3D modeling for components such as the pusher.

Diagram of the respirator electronics. Image: CoronavirusMakers.

"We don't want these respirators to be used, but if necessary ... we have to have it ready," says Gonzalo Aller, one of the members of this community. "It is crucial, it has been done in record time and the idea is that we start with a minimum system to intubate whoever needs it as soon as possible. We also want to be able to have many, so that if one fails, we will have several backups, and always of course supervised by doctors and engineers, "he explains.

Before even obtaining validation, many individuals have offered their 3D printers to print respirator parts.

Gonzalo also comments that he has received many requests to join the printing of the parts that are necessary, but that it is not yet possible until validation is obtained. "We have asked for patience, for the moment the logistics have been prepared so that everything is ready and we can start immediately."

All that community maker It is mobilized, so they will start printing them as soon as they receive the order. Meanwhile, they print other objects that are also helpful, such as small tools to open the door without skin contact or protective visors for healthcare personnel, which are also in short supply.

The Science Department of @GobAsturias works with health authorities in validating a prototype respirator developed by Asturian researchers that could be used in Spanish hospitals to alleviate the effects of # COVID19 @ReesistenciaT pic.twitter.com/dtgcByDDy9

- Government of Asturias (@GobAsturias) March 20, 2020

This process, having no software or electronics and only consisting of a couple of pieces, is much faster, and in fact takes several days to complete. For example, in León, where the company León 3D is located, which is acting as the epicenter of all the volunteers who are joining to print protective visors, including the company itself. Right now, about 200 printers from 150 different owners produce these plastic visors, to which pieces of transparent acetate are superimposed and an elastic rubber is added to fix the piece to the head.

A local police officer from León collects 3D printed visors with acetate sheets. Image: 3D Lion.

"We are working with the management of the León and Ponferrada hospitals, because the teams that care for the infected have already run out of masks," explains their spokesman, Jesús Fernández. "We are also creating some models with superior protection for some people who have asked us. They are already being used as a protection measure."

Both the company and volunteers with 3D printers in their homes are coordinated to deliver their models thanks to the collection that Civil Protection makes, which follows the same itinerary every day to receive all the masks already printed. "This is supported by each person with the filament they have at home. We are selling it at practically cost price, there are people who also get it on their own, and other organizations are donating it. Between municipalities and associations it is being achieved. For the respirator we are also ready, we will put half of the printers to print cams, gears, etc ", concludes Jesus.

Just to the south, in Zamora, the company Somos 3D Zamora is exercising a role very similar to that of León 3D. First they were bookstores, haberdasheries or individuals who donated the materials to print the protection screens - the same as the previous ones -, although now the city council of the Zamora capital has assumed that role.

"Yesterday we gave the Civil Guard 300 screens, today 600. The 3D printers are working 24 hours," says David Ríos, the owner of the company. "The Civil Guard collects everything and takes it to the hospital, where they sterilize and assemble it.

Mask model finished and being tested. Image: 3D Lion.

One of those private citizens who are joining these initiatives is Jaime Delgado, a 3D printing enthusiast with a unit at his home in Majadahonda (Madrid). He asked in the group of Telegram of the collaborators of Madrid and they entrusted him to coordinate the group of his city, which already has 118 people, including some from neighboring towns.

In the absence of respirator validation, 3D printers are being used to create protective screens or tools that allow doors to be opened without skin contact

"I called the Department of Youth to coordinate, the city council has already bought the material and is in charge of the logistics." As in the previous cases, the Local Police and Civil Protection are in charge of picking it up and taking it to the hospitals, although they also deliver certain materials. "This is essential, there are difficult materials to get and we should not leave the house. No one has a PVC sheet on hand," he explains.

From his house he prints approved screens, such as those for the Castilla y León cases, and glasses bridges at the request of the Local Police. "Now everyone wants to make respirators, but it is very difficult. Also, a poorly made respirator is just as dangerous as not having one. I will join in printing parts when I have one clinically validated." In this they walk from Asturias, we will see if in the next days the miracle is achieved and a legion of respirators based on Arduino begin to reach ICUs across the country.

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