Shaping the future: Our strategy for research and innovation in humanitarian response.

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Field Ready aims to address gaps in disaster relief logistical supply chains by bringing 3D printing to the field in order to achieve smaller and faster manufacturing approaches. This month, Dara Dotz and Danielle Perretty are back in Port-au-Prince to further test our approach.  The focus is on printing and passing on the basic skills to others.

We’re printing and testing the fabrication of few medical disposables such as oxygen tube connectors.  These items are important to patients suffering from ailments such as TB.  We’ve taken care to print initial designs that are test-friendly and to establish an appropriate process that can work in places like Haiti.  Part of the procedure involves keeping the equipment, especially the print bed, and the printer’s hands clean.  And once it’s printed it needs to be kept clean.  We’ve used a plastic bag as shown in the photo.


An oxygen tube connected just printed on a MakerBot.

As with any project, not everything can go according to plan.  The partner we had originally agreed to support involved in treating TB patients has closed activities and so efforts have been made to find alternatives.  We visited existing outpatients and talked to a number of people about other needs that might be addressed.

We’re also starting to build out a catalog of printable parts that will eventually go beyond the medical items we’re testing in Haiti.  Once our first draft is done, this will sync with the equipment catalogs of other humanitarian organizations such as UNICEF and Oxfam.

This month we provided introductory training for five aid workers based in Port-au-Prince.  We have given considered thought as to who the training should target and what topics should be covered.  For this, we have developed a framework to delineate skills – we plan to publish later.  In this training provided on the premises of Haiti Communitere, topics included:

  • Understanding the basics of 3D printing
  • Introduction to CAD (Computer Aided Design)
  • How to print
  • How to maintain and upkeep equipment

We’ve been using both MakerBots and the UP Mini printers in Haiti (shown below).

Setting up MakerBot (foreground) and UpMini (background) printers.

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