I-Form uses 3D printing to bridge PPE gaps in fight against COVID-19

 (Dublin, 2nd April) -- I-Form, the SFI Research Centre for Advanced Manufacturing, is using its expertise in additive manufacturing (3D printing) to provide much-needed PPE (personal protective equipment) to frontline staff working across the health service in Dublin.

  • I-Form is 3D printing 150 face shields a day for medical staff on the frontline
  • Tallaght University Hospital and HSE COVID-19 testing centres among first recipients of 3D printed face shields
  • 600 face shields donated so far this week
  • 3D printed goggles being tested in I-Form labs

Since Friday 27th March, I-Form researchers based at University College Dublin have been focused on meeting the immediate need for PPE among health professionals fighting the spread of Coronavirus - starting with the 3D printing of face shields. The I-Form team, along with engineering colleagues at UCD, responded to a direct request for this particular item of PPE from Tallaght University Hospital, and have made and donated 300 face shields to the hospital this week.  

"Myself and my colleagues at I-Form and UCD spent all weekend in our lab - taking it in shifts to ensure social distancing - and by Sunday night we had produced 300 face shields for Tallaght University Hospital. Working as a team, we took existing designs and optimised them to produce one part every 17 minutes. We are continuing this work and, as of today, we have produced and donated 600 face shields to frontline staff across Dublin," said Dr Andrew Dickson, a postdoctoral researcher at I-Form.

Prof Denis Dowling, director of I-Form, said: “Additive manufacturing (3D printing) is a highly adaptable technology that can be quickly harnessed to meet an immediate need. It enables local production at relatively low cost. As an SFI Research Centre, we are doing what we can to use our manufacturing expertise and infrastructure to help protect healthcare workers fighting COVID-19 on the frontline.”

I-Form is also donating face shields to HSE COVID-19 testing centres around the greater Dublin area, along with other hospitals in the city. Discussions are also underway with two nursing homes to provide this equipment.

Other areas under investigation by researchers at I-Form include the production of protective goggles and ventilator-related technological aids.



About I-Form, the SFI Research Centre for Advanced Manufacturing

I-Form, the SFI Research Centre for Advanced Manufacturing, is delivering the next level of understanding and control for complex manufacturing processes. Our mission is to shape the future of manufacturing through high-impact research into the application of digital technologies to materials processing. I-Form brings together a nationwide pool of expertise in materials science, engineering, data analytics and cognitive computing. I-Form is applying exciting developments in digital technologies to materials processing, to improve understanding, modeling and control, thus increasing the competitiveness of Irish manufacturing on the world stage.

Funded by Science Foundation Ireland, I-Form works with industry to advance the low-cost, low-risk design of new products and the manufacture of high-value components exhibiting enhanced material performance, while reducing processing times and achieving enhanced process reliability. I-Form is actively engaged across a range of different materials processing technologies, with a (particular focus on Additive Manufacturing (3D printing).

I-Form is funded through the Science Foundation Ireland Research Centres Programme and co-funded under the European Regional Development Fund. It is a partnership between University College Dublin, Dublin City University, Trinity College Dublin, Institute of Technology Sligo, the National University of Ireland Galway, Waterford Institute of Technology and the National University of Ireland Maynooth - along with strong collaborative industry engagement in sectors that include medical devices, aerospace, automobile and microelectronic components.


(Press release)

Top right: Image shows frontline staff at Tallaght University Hospital using I-Form's 3D printed face shields. Image credit: Tommy Walsh, Medical Photographer, TUH

Above right: Image shows staff at St Vincent's Hospital using I-Form's 3D printed face shields.