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In December, Dara Dotz and Eric James back in Port-au-Prince, joined by our manufacturing engineer, Mark Mellors. Our efforts focused on wrapping up activities including meeting with partners and testing and maximizing the printing we’ve been doing for some time now.

These prints include a number of medical disposables.  One key piece has been umbilical cord clamps.  We took original local items which are relatively easy to find and inexpensive to source in a developed market but are difficult to find and expensive in a place like Haiti. In the photo (below), we show the originals and the design iterations this piece has undergone.  In the end, we manufactured over 50 clamps (about a month’s supply) and delivered these to a local clinic for use by midwives and traditional birth attendants.

umbilical_cord_clamps_left_to_right_original_first_design_and_three_used_designs_printed_in_haiti

Umbilical Cord clamps. Left to right: Original first design and three used designs printed in Haiti

Perhaps the most important part of this iterative process is talking to people directly.  This is not only the heart of participatory development but also the latest in “lean” methods and human centered design process found in the commercial sector.  In the photo below where we’re talking to an American nurse at the Real Hope for Haiti(link is external) health clinic, about an hour’s drive north of Port-au-Prince.

dara_dotz_and_mark_mellors_talk_to_nurse_lori_holiding_printed_clamp_at_hope_for_haiti_clinic_in_cazale_haiti_11_dec_14

Dara Dotz and Mark Mellor talking to Nurse Lori who is holding a printed clamp at the Hope for Haiti Clinic

During this project we’ve seen that it’s a comprehensive effort; not just technology but a test of systems, support mechanisms and the integration with existing efforts.  After all, simply sending machines to the field won’t work.  Just as with any other sector – whether health, WASH or shelter – there needs to be technical expertise, continual support and close cooperation with partners.

We’ve also been looking into the possibility of alternative power supplies and recycling of plastic filaments.  In the printing manufacturing process, there is a fair amount of failed starts, mistakes and “do overs.”  In our current logs, we’re showing about a 75% print success although that’s simply initial results and once the initial bugs were worked out we had a print success rate of over 90%.  Using a hand-cranked grinder and a recycler, we’re testing how these can be recycled directly onsite. This, the alternative energy sources and training approach will need further work.

We’re deeply grateful and wish thank a number of our growing list of partners for both on-the-ground and behind-the-scenes support.

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