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Responding to the COVID crisis

15 Apr 2020
Image Credit: Diamond Schmitt Architects
Architectural Credit: Claudia Cozzitorto / Diamond Schmitt Architects

The desire to answer the call for crowd-sourced manufacture of PPE was unanimous throughout the office With the COVID-19 pandemic touching every corner of peoples’ lives, bringing radical adjustments to ways and means of working, our architecture practice wanted to help. We all wanted to help anyway we could. Michael Garron Hospital is a client and their outreach to the community set us on a path to contribute to the urgent need for PPE. Our 3D printers, idled by the virus, were ready to deploy.

Our Digital Fabrication Group had done much research on different types of PPE, the appropriate material, and any required protocols for model room sterilization. We had a virtual meeting with hospital researchers and a cardiologist about the need for facemasks, but unfortunately our 3D printers did not meet the required tolerances. Our research seemed to take us in circles until further exchange and exploration narrowed in on an urgent need for 3D printed face visors. Once all the details were confirmed, Diamond Schmitt executives did not hesitate to endorse the initiative and we began immediately.

The 3D printers can be activated remotely and a live streaming camera means the digital fabrication team can monitor from afar. A test print ran overnight with the moulds positioned to optimize production for each print run. This took a few tests to maximize production while working from home.

I have connected with colleagues at architecture firms across the GTA, many have also responded to the call for 3D printed PPE, equally as eager - we all want to help.

This experience has demonstrated the true power of crowd-sourcing and the possibilities of decentralized manufacturing when open-sourced models are shared. How we, as an architecture firm, can be making design models one day and the next producing PPE for frontline medical staff to protect them and reduce the spread of COVID-19 is truly remarkable.

As a result of this pandemic, our relationship to technology has changed for each of us over the past weeks in unexpected ways. Let us continue to look to leverage our tools and technology in the days to come for the public’s well-being.

This week, we will be sending another batch of face visors to Michael Garron Hospital. Reports from the field indicate they are living up to the task of keeping frontline workers that much safer as they continue their heroic efforts to care for patients in this time of crisis.

We encourage others with 3D printers to join us, Michael Garron Hospital is calling for 10,000 face visors.

Claudia Cozzitorto is a Design Technologies Director at Diamond Schmitt Architects.


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