by Dilpreet BhullarApr 07, 2020
In a bid to help fight the spread of COVID-19, architecture firm Bjarke Ingels Group, famously known as BIG joined the efforts to collectively and rapidly design, produce and distribute personal protective equipment (PPE) to hospitals around the world. After Erik Cederberg of Swedish company 3DVerkstan created an open source file for a simplified face shield, BIG responded by mobilising 3D printing and model making capabilities to produce 3D printed face shields.
Many architects and firms are coming together as part of an open-source project to make face shields for hospitals workers who are treating coronavirus patients. Bjarke Ingels, the founder and creative director of Danish firm BIG, said this pandemic reveals flexible making capacity that resides in so many places. “Just like computers went from business machines to PCs to handheld devices – the internet went from institutional to businesses and internet cafes to cable and wireless – and perhaps manufacturing is in the process to move from purpose-built factories to general capabilities and eventually to the maker hub on the block or the PF (Personal Fabricator). Out of the massive urgency and shortcomings of the traditional provisions and supply chain during the COVID-19 outbreak, the silver lining here is perhaps in revealing the flexible making capacity that resides in so many places you don’t normally associate with the manufacturing industry – like architecture and design studios,” he added.
BIG is efficiently producing 50 units within 24-hour cycles per printer. By adapting and optimising the open source file for high volume print production, the firm updated this to create a stacked version, thus increasing speed and reducing time.
“One thing that we find intriguing out of this situation is the idea of distributed just-in-time manufacturing capabilities. In response to the acute and escalating need for PPE, we had the possibility to mobilise our 3D printing and model-making capabilities to make nearly 10,000 face shields per week for the medical forces on the front lines across New York, Copenhagen and London,” adds Ingels.
BIG has dedicated its Model Shop in NYC to make face-shield components and is tweaking the design to optimise production. “Our BIG NYC model shop has been spearheading our 3D printing efforts these past days, adapting the open source face shield design by Erik Cederberg of 3DVerkstan to be optimised for high-volume print production. As with distributed computing, perhaps distributed manufacturing has potentials we haven’t even thought of yet. The cloud of the material world – that allows instant and omnipresent translation from data to matter,” mentioned Ingels.
On March 30, 2020, BIG’s Model Shop in New York City, spearheaded by Bernardo Schuhmacher and overseen by Carlos Castillo, with the 3D production of nearly 5,000 face shields a week helped provide masks to the frontliners at Mount Sinai Hospital and Weill Cornell Medicine in NYC. Seeing the benefits of this impact, on April 13, 2020, BIG’s workshops in Copenhagen, London and New York started 3D printers running for 24 hours a day to produce face shields for local hospitals.
BIG has made the open files for the 3D printed face shields as well as the BIG stacks available for download on their website. They have shared their CURA (3D printing software) as well as stacked.stl (used for 3D systems) files for both European and North American design make of Ultimaker (the 3D printer). With these efforts BIG encourages all to join in equipping the medical forces fighting the coronavirus pandemic across the world as efficiently as possible.