Spain is currently in "state of alarm" because of the pandemic well known as COVID-19. In order to avoid its spread, citizens must remain isolated in their respective homes in order to avoid contagion; at the same time, the treatment of those infected is being carried out mainly in health centres. The number of infected people is growing exponentially. However, the Spanish health system has neither the infrastructure nor the medical material to respond to the urgent demand. This is why extraordinary measures have been taken in both the public and private sectors to solve this lack of resources.
From the public sphere, the army is fitting out public buildings in order to be able to treat all those infected who need to remain in the hospital. In private companies, the production is being adapted to this emergency. Textile factories are manufacturing gowns and masks, while distilleries are producing rubbing alcohol. In this context, a creative and innovative solution that is being implemented is the production of personal protective equipment (PPE) with 3D printers at the local level.
The Gavà City Council, in collaboration with IMES3D, a company established in this municipality, has joined the national initiative 3DCovid19. The objective is to provide personal protective equipment (PPE) to the population exposed to the risk: health centres, old people's homes, food stores and municipal emergency service teams.Visors with face protection screens are being manufactured daily with the support of 3D printers, and then, distributed to those workers exposed to the virus. It is a sustainable initiative, as the components of these masks can be reused; they are also durable and can be maintained over time. Finally, it is a model that can be replicated since it can be developed in other contexts.
IMES3D, dedicated to print prototypes for other companies, has focused all its efforts and machinery on the production of visors with face protection screens. These masks are made up of 2 pieces of PTG polyethylene with glycol, 1 polypropylene screen covering the entire face, and 1 headband. Every day 150-200 units are manufactured. With the support of the municipal police of Gavà the final product is distributed to the groups most exposed to the risk. Currently, the work is being done not only to reach the 250 masks per day, but also to improve the model.
This initiative has been developed with the collaboration of the Gavà City Council. This local entity has contributed with the purchase of 3D printers and consumables; it has facilitated the logistics, and is currently contacting other companies and collaborators to continue advancing this project.
Aditionally, this action is linked to the future Unió de Cooperadors, a symbolic building located in Gavà. It is currently being restored. In the short term it will be a space for collaboration and economic innovation that will embrace the necessary facilities to support and help to the entrepreneurs. 3D printing will be available among other services and equipment. Its purpose is in line with one of the municipality's strategic lines: to be a reference centre for innovation. At the same time, it incorporates multiple SDG, such as number 9: Industry, innovation and infrastructure; and SDG 8: decent work and economic growth. IMES3D will be part of the so-called Fablab, a space for the production of items on a local scale that merges together machines controlled by computers. The opening was scheduled for this summer, but given the circumstances, it will have to wait a few more months.
In order to evaluate the effectiveness of this initiative there are two indicators that will measure the success. On the one hand, the total number of masks manufactured and the number of users protected by the use of these masks. On the other hand, it is important to take into account the number of cooperating agents involved; currently there are: 1 company, 1 school, 5 individuals and 2 shops, as well as several departments of the Gavà City Council. All of them structure the Gavà Node of the 3DCovid19 project, which in parallel, is integrated into the Delta Node, a group of makers from the neighbouring municipalities, in which there is a constant flow of information and coordination.