3D Print Your COVID-19 Solution

I have a personal belief that, when bad things happen, the best reaction is to channel your energy into being one of the “helpers,” as Mr. Rogers put it. So, when the COVID-19 crescendo started to build in the United States, I found stability in redirecting my helplessness and anxiety into what I believe to be a force for good: crowdsourcing and open innovation.

If you’re reading this, you probably already know: That also happens to be what we do for a living here at IdeaScale. What was energizing to me was to see that my colleagues, and our outstanding clients, felt the same way: Let’s lean into this to see how this thing we do everyday can help contribute solutions to today’s most urgent global problem: COVID-19.

So we organized as a team, and as a network. We crowdsourced problem statements and statement starters, we’ve held two webinars, we’re even offering complimentary services to support our clients’ COVID-19 response efforts.

Then came this: An airman in the U.S. Air Force, an IdeaScale client, is spending all day every day 3D printing face shields and face masks to help protect his colleagues. So, how might we help here? What if we expand the types of attachments our platform allows to include common 3D-printing template file types? This would enable him to upload his template to their Innovation platform to more easily share it with other AF innovators. 

Enter our Product Team. They classified this as a QTAT (Quick Turnaround Time), and, in less than two weeks, it was designed, built, tested and released. IdeaScale now supports file types .OBJ, .STL, and .STP. 

Right now the Air Force is working on printing face shields and face masks, but you can make tons of amazing things with 3D printing technology that might be able to help during this chaotic and creative time: oxygen valves for ventilators, respirators, hands-free door handle attachments, and even quarantine booths to help hospitals. 

Do you have 3D printers in your network with capacity to spare? Any 3D-printing hobbyists in your community looking for a way to help out? Would the ability to share 3D-printing templates across your organization help in the fight against COVID-19? Stand up a campaign. Empower your community members to share their time and talents and become change-makers, aka “helpers.”

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