SFU students are using 3D printing to develop coronavirus supplies

Apr 30 2020, 12:33 pm

When the call went out that local hospital staff needed COVID-19 supplies, SFU Mechatronics Systems Engineering (MSE) students were eager to help using the high-tech skills they’ve been learning, according to their professor Woo Soo Kim.

Kim and 60 students worked from home, designing and developing medical mask parts using their personal 3D printers, and as a result of their efforts, 500 medical mask ear-savers, which help to eliminate pressure and discomfort, were given to Vancouver General Hospital (VGH) staff.

Kim said engineers within the 3D printing community are looking for opportunities to give back during the pandemic. “COVID-19 is quite tragic, but because of this we can see how we can contribute to the community from the engineering perspective,” he added.

And now that SFU’s Additive Manufacturing Lab in Surrey has been cleared to open for essential work, Kim and graduate students, while following strict health protocols, are developing special door handles that allow people to open a door without using their hands.

These supplies will be given to City of Surrey municipal workers.

“The City of Surrey has long recognized the expertise of SFU Surrey’s 3D printing capabilities,” said Surrey Mayor Doug McCallum. “When the COVID-19 pandemic began, we already had earlier discussions with SFU Surrey’s engineering professors on the department’s ability to utilize its 3D printing technology to produce critical personal protective equipment and other devices in response to COVID-19.”

McCallum said he wants to “commend the SFU Mechatronics Systems Engineering students and professors for the innovative and critical work they are accomplishing.”

He added that the city looks forward “to future collaborations on other 3D printed innovations that could protect our healthcare workers and first responders during the COVID-19 pandemic.”

This project provides an opportunity for students to collaborate and put what they’ve learned in class to practice. They will also be able to apply their work to a directed study course for credit.