Rapid 3D Prototyping Advances Response to Coronavirus Shortages

It’s early April, and – with the move to remote learning due to COVID-19 – Doug Daniels, director of the UCLA Library’s Lux Lab, is busy 3D printing a series of prototypes of ventilator valve splitters to address shortages of medical-grade personal protective equipment (PPE) and medical devices. In late March, Daniels printed four different face shield prototypes for testing by UCLA Health.

As the coronavirus began to spread, the shortage of masks and face shields for UCLA and local medical professionals became clear very quickly,” said Daniels. “At the same time, I was looking for ways to put the lab to good use since students were learning remotely.” 

Daniels called other UCLA emerging technology labs and discovered fellow staff and faculty who also were working to solve the PPE problem, but were not yet collaborating. He also contacted a pediatric cardiologist with whom he had previously worked to create 3D models of infant patients’ hearts to help surgeons design and implant tiny surgical stents. These connections led to the formation of the UCLA COVID-19 PPE team, including the Library, UCLA Health, and UCLA Engineering. 

As early rapid prototyping was underway, Todd Grappone, associate university librarian, encouraged Daniels to deploy a real-time collections strategy. “It was critical to build and disseminate knowledge to advance campus-wide research across the PPE team,” he said. “The Library now holds a comprehensive open resource of vetted 3D-printed single-use PPE solutions and related data, and we’ve shared it globally.”  

At press time, UCLA medical students had assembled close to 6,750 single-use face shields for UCLA Health. The final, open-sourced design for 3D printed face shields was iteratively prototyped by the Library's Lux Lab and UCLA Engineering's MakerSpace, with design modifications made by 3D4E, UCLA's student-run 3D printing club.

“When the collection, preservation and dissemination of resources intersects with emerging technologies,” said Grappone, “It’s gratifying to see the impact UCLA Library can have across campus and around the world.”

If you are interested in contributing to or have questions about UCLA Library’s COVID-19 efforts, contact Library Development at (310) 206-8526, or visit giving.ucla.edu/library.