Project blog

Rapid manufacturing: Refining the Approach

Organisation: Field Ready

Partners: Griffith University , Singularity University, Maya Design and Practical Action Publishing

Location: Haiti and USA

Type of grant: Core – development

Status: Ongoing

  • Dara Dotz adjusts MakerBot print bed in PortAuPrince

  • Just printed - clamp on printer bed

  • Close up of just-printed clamp before removal of support and excess plastic

  • Umbilical Cord Clamps - L-R: original design and three designs printed and used in Haiti

  • Field Ready Oxygen tube

  • Mark demonstrates the usefulness of a 3D printer in the field while making a new water pipe connector

  • Nepal: The completed water connector in use


What is the humanitarian need?
In rapid onset disasters simple procurement orders can take weeks or even months to arrive, impeding humanitarian operations. Research estimates 60-80% of humanitarian aid is spent on logistics, making it the most expensive aspect of humanitarian assistance. Existing supply chain practice includes; procurement, transportation, warehousing and ‘last mile’ distribution, this is often undertaken in an environment of considerable uncertainty and disrupted physical and communications infrastructure. Supply chain solutions to date have focused mainly on improving and optimising the status quo.

What is the innovation?
This project aims to transform the way humanitarian logistics are done by disrupting and improving supply chains through the use of technology, especially 3D printers (3DP), engaging and training local people in this approach. 3DP provides one way to disrupt the current challenges of providing relief programmes with the right supplies and may also help overcome barriers to importation that governments sometimes impose. International humanitarian response has yet to take full advantage of the opportunities afforded by such recent technological advances. After a HIF invention grant to pilot this technology proved successful, continued funding enables the development of this innovation by documenting and creating practical action plans and guidelines with the aim of scaling up this innovation in the humanitarian sector.

What is the expected outcome?
This project has the potential to revolutionise the delivery of aid by significantly reducing procurement costs, shortening the duration of the logistical cycle and dramatically improving the ability to meet unique and difficult to fulfill needs in the field. If the innovation is successful and taken to scale by the humanitarian system, the following impacts are expected: 1) Survivors of humanitarian disasters will get critical lifesaving supplies when, where, and how they are most needed, 2) humanitarian supply chains will ensure the most efficient and cost effective distribution of humanitarian supplies, 3) disaster rehabilitation will be expedited and more cost efficient, and 4) communities devastated by disasters will be empowered (with knowledge, skills, and equipment) for economic growth and resilience.


Elrha is hosted by Save the Children, a registered charity in England and Wales (213890) and Scotland (SC039570).

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