The city’s digital fab labs are producing protective items using 3D printers to help tackle the health emergency

The city’s digital fab labs have opened up to produce and distribute protective items for workers in services that are most exposed to infection

Barcelona has made its digital fab labs and their 3D printing facilities available to the Coronavirus Makers community to produce some of the individual protective items and sanitary materials most needed by the medical community and the sectors most at risk of infection from the Covid-19 virus.

The first production batch under way is for visors for protective face masks, with daily output expected to be around 80 units.

The maker community, made up of professionals from different sectors such as healthcare, science, engineering and design, has teamed up online and in a non-profit way to develop quick, effective solutions to resolve the shortage of protective clothing and medical material needed to tackle the health emergency. Coordinated at a national level, sub-groups by province and zones have been developed, with the Barcelona Metropolitan Area (AMB) acting as the node for managing the city’s digital fab labs and the headquarters of the Escola Superior de Disseny and Art Llotja in the district of Sant Andreu.

The rapid advance of the pandemic has meant that individual protective items are now in short supply, which is hampering protection and prevention measures for the medical teams and workers who are most exposed to infection, such as security staff, social services staff, workers in elderly people’s homes, and even market traders and shop and cleaning staff.

After some days of coordination, planning and organisation, the visors for protective face masks went into production on Monday. Once the items have been approved by health specialists, and providing fab lab resources can manage it, in the coming days production will begin on door openers, masks and eye protectors.

In addition to the five facilities making up the city’s digital fab lab network (Parc Tecnològic, Ciutat Meridiana, Fàbrica del Sol, Les Corts and Gràcia), two other spaces have also been adapted to help with production: the Punt Multimèdia Fab Casa and Barcelona Activa’s prototyping service (BASA), who between them have put 23 3D printers of various models to work on the project, with the rest of their machinery on standby in case it is needed. These include large-format laser cutters, vinyl cutters, precision milling machines and CNC milling machines. A team of 20 employees are working on-site and online on production, storage and distribution tasks.

The initiative is an example of technological humanism, given that it guarantees the application of technology to improve city residents’ quality of life, while at the same time responding to the main challenges facing the city and society, such as the current situation of battling the health emergency caused by the Covid-19 virus.