Injection moulding as an alternative to 3D printing for a quicker response to health worker protection needs: this was RadiciGroup’s objective in donating its polyamide 6 material for the production of 3,000 frames for protective visor face shields for medics. The frames were moulded at Rimplast, another Bergamo company, which immediately made available its plastic moulding technology and specialists.
The initiative was started as a follow-up to a project carried out by the young members of the Interact Bergamo club, who, during the last few weeks, made 300 protective visor shields in collaboration with FabLab (3D digital printing lab at the professional training association Patronato San Vincenzo in Bergamo). Using 3D-printing technology, the teenagers produced frames and attached them to PVC sheets to make visor face shields for extra protection (to be used in addition to, not as a replacement for certified PPE) for any workers who may come into contact with potential carriers of Covid-19. FabLab Bergamo then joined the “Easy Covid-19 Mille Respiri per Bergamo e Monza Brianza” initiative for the distribution of the face shields to primary care doctors and paediatricians in the province of Bergamo. This endeavour was met with widespread approval and, in just a few days, the number of requests for the devices grew to the point that a new, faster solution was needed to meet the demand.
“We were already working with some companies in the Bergamo area on projects for the supply of materials, 3D printing of respirator valves and 3D printing of visor frames,” said Nicolangelo Peduto, research and development manager of RadiciGroup High Performance Polymers. “After the initial positive response from the doctors who had already started using the first 3D-printed visor shields, FabLab contacted us and asked if we were willing to offer our engineering polymers (Radilon® S) for injection moulding of the frames. At that point, we started collaborating with Rimplast, which had also decided to get involved and join the solidarity network. In a matter of a few days, we delivered the necessary materials, performed trial runs and produced three thousand pieces. It gives us great satisfaction to be able to make our contribution to the healthcare system, especially in the communities where our production sites are located.”
The boys and girls of FabLab made a thousand kits, each containing three frames, six PVC visors and an instruction sheet. The members of “Easy Covid-19 Mille Respiri per Bergamo e Monza Brianza” took charge of delivering the visor face shield kits to the Bergamo ATS [Health Protection Agency], which then distributed the kits to primary care doctors and paediatricians in the Bergamo province.