Multidisciplinary OU Team Unites to Prototype, Test and Validate Essential Equipment Designs
NORMAN, OKLA. – As the nation works to alleviate the widespread shortage of protective gear and critical equipment for health care workers and first responders, the 3D printing community, manufacturers and hobbyists are stepping in to help. With countless blueprints to choose from, identifying the safest and most effective designs is essential.
More than 40 individuals from across the University of Oklahoma’s three campuses have combined their expertise to develop, prototype, validate and offer recommended essential equipment designs, available at ou.edu/foroklahoma.
“The speed and effectiveness with which the research and innovation communities across OU have come together to respond to these critical needs in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic are a true testament to the values of the university and the quality of its people,” said OU Vice President for Research and Partnerships Tomás Díaz de la Rubia. “I am extremely proud of our faculty, staff and students for how they’ve responded to this challenge. The community will be safer, and OU’s future will be stronger as a result.”
For the past three weeks, the COVID-19 Essential Equipment Task Force, which includes engineers, designers, occupational health and safety experts, doctors and specialists from the OU Norman campus, the Health Sciences Center in Oklahoma City and OU-Tulsa, has been evaluating prototypes and iterating designs.
Designs are first developed by several groups across the university, including the Tom Love Innovation Hub, the Edge at Bizzell Memorial Library, the College of Dentistry and the Gallogly College of Engineering. Prototypes are then shared with experts and health professionals for practical, hands-on feedback and industry standard testing.
Designs that meet both industry standard testing and the needs of front-line health care professionals are published and available for public download at ou.edu/foroklahoma. Proven designs for three types of face shields and a silicone head strap and are now available.
Other designs soon be published to the website include a novel 3D printed respirator mask, isolation boxes for intubation or patient testing, a method for sanitizing N95 masks, 3D-printed swabs, ventilators, ventilator valves, full face protective masks and more. The university intends to manufacture several of the designs listed, provided required approval from the Food and Drug Administration is obtained.
Private citizens, industry and organizations are encouraged to use the designs to help produce this critically needed equipment.
“There has been an incredible desire among makers and manufacturers to provide products that our front-line health care workers so desperately need,” said Tom Wavering, executive director of the Tom Love Innovation Hub, who co-leads the task force with Dr. Yacoub Al Sakka, director of digital technologies in the OU College of Dentistry. “Innovating and publishing these medically vetted designs is one way OU can leverage our expertise and resources in the broad effort to fight COVID-19.”
One of the most promising ideas born from the university’s efforts is a new 3D-printed respirator mask designed by Ken Marold, assistant professor in the Christopher C. Gibbs College of Architecture, that utilizes widely available 3D printer capabilities and commonly sourced filament materials.
Through reference lab testing and feedback from Evan Floyd, assistant professor of occupational and environmental health in the Hudson College of Public Health, Marold’s masks have passed quantitative fit testing for half mask respirators and N95s. The design will be shared to ou.edu/foroklahoma within the week. While a provisional patent is being filed for the design, the university plans to issue a temporary open source license so others can utilize the design to fight the spread of COVID-19.
The university-wide initiative spans the academic spectrum, involving faculty, staff and students in the Christopher C. Gibbs College of Architecture, the Michael F. Price College of Business, the College of Dentistry, the Gallogly College of Engineering, the College of Medicine, the Hudson College of Public Health, OU Physicians-Tulsa, OU Health Services, the Environmental Health and Safety Office, the Tom Love Innovation Hub, OU Libraries and Information Technology.
“This project, which has brought together several disciplines with a singular focus of helping those on the front lines in the fight against COVID-19, is a powerful example of the collaborative and community-oriented culture that spans the entire university,” Wavering said.