The global coronavirus outbreak is continuing its spread across the world, with 181,546 confirmed cases as of writing. In response to the pandemic, many countries have introduced or planned extensive public health measures in order to prevent the spread of Covid-19, which has the potential to cause serious illnesses to those most vulnerable.
In order to help global containment efforts, Belgian software and 3D printing service provider Materialise has opted to make its 3D printed hands-free door opener free for users to print around the world. The door opener makes it possible to open and close doors with the arm, eliminating the need for direct contact with door handles. Such a measure can potentially help reduce the spread of the virus.
Appealing to the global 3D printing community, it hopes individuals with access to 3D printers will help provide the door openers and make them available locally: “By making the design available digitally, it can be produced on 3D printers everywhere and become available around the world in a matter of hours,” explains Fried Vancraen CEO of Materialise.
“In this case, we designed the product in Belgium and people in China, Europe or the U.S. can now 3D print the door opener locally.”
Delaying the spread of Covid-19 for all with 3D printing
According to experts, the coronavirus is capable of surviving on surfaces for extended periods of time, and door handles represent a high risk of contamination, requiring individuals to come into contact with them frequently. During an internal meeting at Materialise, the company set about establishing measures to help protect employees and visitors, which is where the idea for the door opener originated.
The 3D printed door opener has been designed by Materialise to attach to existing door handles without drilling holes or replacing the handle. It features a paddle-shaped extension, allowing people to open and close doors while using their arm instead of their hands, as most doors can’t remain open due to safety reasons.
The first model of the door opener can be attached to cylindrical handles; Materialise has plans to introduce additional designs leveraging different 3D printing technologies in response to the spread of Covid-19.
Soon after creating the door opener, Materialise realized that more people could benefit from the protective measure and the company decided to make the design available for free. Henceforth, anyone with a 3D printer can download the file and produce the door opener locally in a short amount of time. Materialise hopes that this will help make the 3D printed door opener available all over the world, citing the fact that over 500,000 3D printers were sold globally in 2018.
“3D printing is a digital manufacturing technology that makes it possible to create products quickly and in small batches,” the company said in a statement. “3D printing also makes it possible to manufacture locally. As travel and transport become more difficult, the ability to manufacture locally becomes more important.”
Additionally, people without access to a 3D printer have the option to order the door opener via the i.materialise portal. Customers can purchase a set of two hands-free door openers, including screws, for €40.
The impact of the coronavirus in 3D printing
In the 3D printing world, the coronavirus outbreak has already caused the cancellation of two major additive manufacturing shows. Last week, the Additive Manufacturing Users Group (AMUG) made the decision to postpone the AMUG Conference in response to the spread of Covid-19. The 2020 AMUG Expo was due to take place at the Hilton Chicago Hotel from March 22 – 26, 2020. With mounting travel restrictions in place, the new date for the event is set to March 14-18, 2021.
Yesterday SME, the producers of the additive manufacturing exhibition RAPID + TCT, announced that it had postponed the 2020 event to April 20-23 2021, due to the global Covid-19 pandemic. It was scheduled to take place later this month, Apr 19-22, 2020.
Materialise itself has also postponed its own 2020 World Summit event, in response to the spread of the virus. During the company’s most recent financial report for FY 2019, Wilfried Vancraen CEO of Materialise commented on the impact that the COVID-19 virus could have for Materialise in 2020: “The summit has been postponed however to November 5 and 6 because of the worldwide both mandatory and voluntary restrictions on mobility in response to the COVID-19 virus. That brings us from the great opportunities of tomorrow to the harsh situation today. The global impact of the coronavirus that is also impacting Materialise.”
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Featured image shows the hands free door opener in use. Photo via Materialise.