Saskatoon business 3D-printing medical supplies to help hospitals fight COVID-19

Click to play video: 'Saskatoon business 3D printing medical supplies to help hospitals fight COVID-19'
Saskatoon business 3D printing medical supplies to help hospitals fight COVID-19
WATCH: Some Saskatoon businesses are donating medical equipment, or they're making their own, to help fight shortages – Mar 24, 2020

The 3D printers at Wave of the Future 3D have been hard at work since Monday.

The shop had been closed to help stop COVID-19 spread in Saskatchewan and now it’s putting these unused printers to good use, printing parts for medical supplies to donate for hospitals, care homes, and anywhere else that needs them.

There are 72 confirmed cases of novel coronavirus in Saskatchewan as of March 24, according to the provincial government.

“If we can do whatever we can to help the communities fight this then we can hopefully keep our doors open as well,” said owner Randy James.

James’ 28 printers are printing two pieces: headbands to hold plastic face shields, and molds to use as a template to vacuum seal masks.

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With some innovation from his product designer Land Greene, the shop said it’s able to churn out these pieces in about 45 minutes, instead of the over two hours it would usually take.

“We should be able to produce upwards of about 100 of these every 6 hours,” said James.

But to keep printers going, the shop needs supplies.

Click to play video: 'Local 3D printing shop creating solution for plastic waste'
Local 3D printing shop creating solution for plastic waste

It’s running out of filament, according to James. It’s what they use to make the parts, akin to the ink in a traditional printer.

“I’ve had businesses even call me that are asking if we can help provide a couple [pieces] for their cooks in the restaurants,” James said.
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He’s asking for donations to help them give back.

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The shop also plans to start vacuum-sealing masks themselves, and James said he’s prototyping printing automatic respirators.

Across Canada, front-line workers have been struggling with equipment shortages. Saskatchewan nurses say they need N95 respirator masks.

An employee at Saskatoon’s Norseman Structures noticed they had extra masks, so the company donated 160 to St. Paul’s hospital.

“They had a very emotional reception and one of the employees said that they think that that could last them about 10 days of supplies,” said Charmaine Elmgren, speaking on behalf of the company.

The Saskatchewan Health Authority says it’s accepting donations of masks, non-latex gloves and disposable gowns, but they must be in sealed, unopened boxes.

It said it is not accepting sewn masks or gowns.

“Due to current visitor restrictions, we ask that you do not deliver supplies directly to our facility,” reads a press release from the authority.

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It said it will provide more details for donation drop-offs in the coming days.

Questions about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:

Health officials caution against all international travel. Returning travellers are asked to self-isolate for 14 days in case they develop symptoms and to prevent spreading the virus to others.

Symptoms can include fever, cough and difficulty breathing — very similar to a cold or flu. Some people can develop a more severe illness. People most at risk of this include older adults and people with severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease. If you develop symptoms, contact public health authorities.

To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend frequent handwashing and coughing into your sleeve. They also recommend minimizing contact with others, staying home as much as possible and maintaining a distance of two metres from other people if you go out.

For full COVID-19 coverage from Global News, click here.

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