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UT FCMF Covid19 Response

25,000 3D printed faceshield bands

25000 3d printed headbands

The UT FCMF team began actively contributing to support the State, campus and community in areas of health care and protective personnel equipment (PPE). Upon request from the State and the UT administration, the entire UT engineering and architecture teams converged in their support for need of facemasks. About 75 3D printers were printing faceshields actively over 2-3 months. About 25,000 3D printed faceshields were delivered to the State and community at large through the collaborative efforts of the team. As part of this several design innovations from undergraduate and graduate students were realized. Several pictures are provided here.

Students created excellent alternate innovative headband designs

Alternate lightweight designs

65,000 Faceshields

The FCMF team designed and produced 65,000 face shields for the University of Tennessee (UT) campus and community in response to Covid19 needs. Every student, staff and visitor received a UT-shield.  The UT team was responsible for the engineering, development and production of the face shields. Each face shield features an injection molded ergonomic lightweight frame and a snap-fit PETG visor. The product can be used 1000s of times, and cleaned with soap-water, alcohol wipes and other methods of sterilization. A 2-cavity injection molding tool and steel-rule dies were used to produce the components. A 100% closed-loop recycling strategy was developed by fully recycling the PETG scrap into flakes of aspect ratio suitable for producing additional parts with the recycled PETG..

Rapid stamping of PETG faceshield using steel rule dies

Stamped PETG faceshields – 65,000 produced in 3 weeks

Assembled faceshields

Reusable masks

The team made significant advancements in reuseable masks that can be used 1000s of times. The reuseable mask design comprises injection molded inner, outer and a cap ring with a disposable cartridge stype filter. 3D printing was used to produce form-fit-function prototypes with silicone. The engineering, prototype and injection molding production tooling was accomplished in six weeks. The team also developed 3D printed tooling to produce injection molded strap holders that hold the strap firmly to the head. Several studies were conducted to develop a pleated filter that is co-molded with the inner to enable a leak-proof seal. The tooling produced is capable of producing 15,000 masks per week.

3d printed silicone masks for form-fit-function evaluation

Silicone mask – form-fit-function evaluation

Cap ring, inner with comolded filter cartridge

Pleated filter cartridges. The circumferential holes are for polymer injection molding to enable the seal

Injection molded inner, outer and cap ring

Patient barrier

Even if wearing PPE (mask, gown) medical personnel can be exposed to particles and cough from the patient. The patient barrier provides a safe environment for doctors and nurses to conduct procedures like intubation, medicine administration and interaction with the patient. The FCMF staff and students designed and developed both hard and soft reusable barriers. Processes such as thermoforming, fabric assembly and creative elements in the design were enabled. Intellectual property has been filed and the technologies are ready for commercialization.

Medical personnel can be exposed to patient particles

Thermoforming tool being prepared

Hard top barrier – modular and reusable

Hard barrier with openings, form-fit-function testing on dummy

Soft barrier, cheap, modular and disposable

Testing tubes and vials

UT FCMF partnered with IACMI, ORNL and Thermofisher to develop injection molding tooling and rapid prototypes for a range of Covid19 testing tubes, vials and leak-proof caps. Major producers of tubes and vials use 128 or higher number of multi-cavity tools which require investment in the millions of dollars. Prior to making these tooling decisions, the collaboration between ORNL-UT enabled companies like Thermofisher to leverage DOE funding for global urgent need for Covid19 testing. This project led to creation of tubes, vials and caps within 3 weeks to produce prototypes which passed all the required tests – enabling Thermofisher to invest in risk-free multi-million dollars production tooling. All the engineering risks were addressed through the ORNL-UT collaborations.

Covid19 tubes and caps – 3-week from design to prototypes

Representative prototype tooling used for production of tubes and caps

The team continues to respond to evolving needs. We wish for our readers to be safe and healthy through these challenging times.

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