In order to overcome the lack of masks, over the past two weeks, several FabLabs have begun designing and producing protective visors. The act of solidarity draws on the flexibility and potential of digital manufacturing to address an urgent need. The Orange Foundation has today decided to help 52 Solidarity FabLabs in ten of the countries in its international network to produce the visors which are have been approved or are being approved by the local health authorities.
An act of solidarity for caregivers
Despite the protective measures taken in the digital manufacture workshops and the reduction of staff numbers to a minimum, the Solidarity FabLabs in Tunisia, France, Spain and the Democratic Republic of Congo all immediately came to the aid of local caregivers.
In just a few hours, using the digital design and manufacture equipment and with the help of the FabLab network, they began designing and making visors for hospital facilities in their region.
The first models were developed in association with the Ministry of Health in Tunisia and with the help of the University Hospital network in several regions of France.
Moving forward with 52 Solidarity FabLabs worldwide
During the current pandemic, the Orange Foundation has mobilised its network, shared the knowledge it has acquired over the past few days and listed over fifty Solidarity FabLabs wishing to step up local production. Meanwhile in France, we have been discussing the various models with the crisis unit set up by the Ministry of Solidarity and Health, and the French FabLab network.
To address the hospitals’ urgent needs, the Foundation came up with €200,000 in funding to allow the 52 FabLabs to purchase raw materials and produce thousands of visors.
The operation will be run in 13 Solidarity FabLabs in seven countries in Africa and the Middle East (Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, Egypt, Madagascar, Democratic Republic of Congo, Senegal, Tunisia) and in 39 Solidarity FabLabs in Europe (France, Poland, Spain). In all these countries, the FabLabs can now contribute to protecting hospital staff against Covid-19 by producing around 200,000 visors.
The people and digital manufacturing on the front line
The 3D printers and laser cutters are now operating constantly thanks to the FabManagers and their teams, as well the volunteers behind the efforts. With unwavering commitment, they are producing visors to protect those on the front line against the virus, including caregivers, pharmacists, and emergency workers.
The FabLabs have also begun to test and manufacture other protective equipment, including fabric masks, door stops, door handle openers, aprons, valves for Decathlon snorkel masks, emergency ventilators, shields for counters in pharmacies, etc.
Since 2014, we have supported 129 Solidarity FabLabs in 19 countries where young people in integration programmes are undergoing training in digital manufacturing.