America Makes announces two 3D printing challenges in response to COVID-19

Following the launch of its online repository to support 3D printing efforts against COVID-19, America Makes has announced two rapid response additive manufacturing challenges to address the shortage of equipment for frontline workers.

The ‘Fit to Face – Mask Design Challenge’ in collaboration with the Department of Veterans Affairs, and the ‘COVID-19 Maker Challenge’, a joint event by Challenge America and the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) Innovation Ecosystem, aim to tap into the continued innovation shown by the AM community during the coronavirus pandemic.

America Makes Executive Director John Wilczynski, said: “This industry is uniquely positioned to take on these challenges as we have the ability to rapidly design and test products that will solve very real problems for frontline workers.”   

The ‘Fit to Face-Mask’ challenge is open only until the end of this week (closing 11:59 PM EDT on 26th April) as it intends to quickly find an open source solution to the most critical PPE need at this time. The challenge calls on the community to collectively find a solution for 3D printed face masks which conform to the shape of a user’s face to offer improved fit and comfort. Five critical geometries and dimensions used in the manufacturing of N95 masks will be made available for participants to develop up to three masks.

“Right now, in the fight against COVID-19 in this country and around the world, the greatest and most acute PPE need is face masks,” Wilczynski explained. “The goal of the Fit to Face-Mask Design Challenge is to rapidly innovate face mask designs with quality solutions that ensure a proper fit and better seal around the face.” 

Five designs will go to the VA, FDA and NIH for fast track review and testing, and pending test results, the top design(s) will be announced on 11th May.

The Challenge America and VHA Innovation Ecosystem ‘COVID-19 Maker Challenge’ will launch on Saturday (25th April) and calls on teams to submit potential problems faced by first responders in relation to COVID-19 and put forward innovative solutions to address them. 

The challenge will invite teams to take part in weeklong virtual evaluations of challenges and culminate with a two-day virtual make-a-thon event on 2-3 May in which teams will produce prototypes of their solutions that are suitable for rapid manufacturing.

Full details on the ‘Fit to Face-Mask’ challenge can be found here and you can find more info on the ‘COVID-19 Maker Challenge’ via the VHA.

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