The Harvard Graduate School of Design (GSD) began production of personal protective equipment (PPE) on Sunday, delivering its first run of 90 face shields to Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) on Tuesday.
With more than 100 3D printers set up in the School’s Gund Hall, state-of-the-art fabrication technologies, and expert guidance from across Harvard University, the GSD is creating PPE for frontline medical personnel at area hospitals. The School expects to have produced components for about 1,000 face shields by the end of this week.
The GSD estimates that it can produce about 3,500 3D-printed, polylactic acid (PLA) visors, and about 800 laser-cut polyethylene terephthalate glycol (PETG) face shields, with the materials currently available at the School. Chris Hansen, 3D fabrication specialist, and GSD Fabrication Lab colleagues are now seeking additional sources of supply. The GSD plans to produce the visors and face-shields as separate components, and to deliver them to Sherry Yu, coordinator of PPE Innovation and Conservation Workgroup in Logistics in Incident Command at BWH, for assembly and distribution.
GSD efforts have been orchestrated by Stephen Ervin, assistant dean for information technology, and Hansen, in addition to GSD faculty and Harvard partners, which include the John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS), the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering, Harvard Medical School, and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.
With design guidance from Eric Höweler, associate professor in architecture, and Martin Bechthold, Kumagai Professor of Architectural Technology and director of Harvard’s Master in Design Engineering program, Hansen produced a face-shield prototype and determined the design could be effectively fabricated with the GSD’s 3D printers and laser-cutting equipment. After the face-shield design had been tested in a clinical trial at BWH, the School moved forward.
“Few would have thought that one day we would leverage these resources to assist in fighting a pandemic, and yet that is exactly what the GSD’s Fabrication Lab is engaging in, along with many similar facilities across the country,” Bechthold says. “Schools, institutions, private companies, and individuals have come together in an often improvised, ad-hoc manner, driven by the conviction that this challenge can be overcome if we leverage the human imagination, think outside the box, and reach out beyond our comfort zone.”