Waag Shares: the maker movement in times of corona

> Waag produces face shields for healthcare workers and other professions that require contact

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> Waag is collecting Decathlon Easybreath snorkel masks to research if used snorkel masks can be used as protection masks for healthcare workers

What is the role of the maker movement during corona crisis? The crisis has lead to the rise of many initiatives of people who show solidarity and want to give a helping hand. Our worldwide network of Fablabs also contributes to healthcare initiatives, mostly locally and through open source design. On the other hand, the quick rise of many unvalidated ideas and posts of prototypes makes for a difficult distinction between initiatives that save lives, and initiatives that come from a good place, but might endanger health and increase the pressure on hospitals.

Talking to the maker movement

With this in mind, Waag organised three meetups in April. On April 1st, members of Waag's maker network and MakeHealth network came together through video conferencing, to talk about the way the maker movement can contribute to the decrease of pressure on the Dutch national healthcare system. Waag's director Marleen Stikker moderated the meetup. We discussed the lengths to which makers can go to contribute to the shortage in materials for hospitals during corona crisis. Most of the attendees asked for caution: makers should try to contribute not to healthcare technology directly during these times, but should instead focus on smaller solutions that can make life easier for the 'shells' around healthcare, such as providing mouth caps for dentists. The lack of communication between healthcare and maker community was also emphasized, because at the time there was no oversight of how many mouth caps were even still available in the Netherlands. 

Diving deeper into maker initiatives

On April 8, we organised another meetup to get deeper into a few of the initiatives mentioned the week before. We spoke to researcher Pieter van Boheemen, who launched the initiative Snorkel Mask 4 Life. The use of a specific type of Decathlon Subea Easybreath snorkel mask combined with a P3 filter might be able to serve as a protection mask for healthcare workers during corona crisis. Pieter bases his research of of the work of Prakash Lab at Stanford University, which is working together with scientists of EPFL, 3D printer firm Form Labs and anesthetists of Utah School of Medicine, and people from all over the world who are interested. They track their progress in an open document.

During this meetup, we discovered the rise of the open source 'mentality'. Scientists and makers from all over the world joined us to talk about their knowledge and craft, which they want to use in order to battle corona virus together. We were joined by, for example, Stijn de Mil from Makers against Corona in Belgium. This initiative started making face shields for healthcare workers and found 70 partners to upscale their production within no time. For a more elaborate look back at this meetup, check out this article (in Dutch).

As a result of this meetup, Waag is helping Pieter van Boheemen to collect used Decathlon snorkel masks for Snorkel Mask 4 Life. Do you have a mask lying around? Please fill out the form linked on the information page.

In the meantime, Waags Fablab started fabricating face shields for healthcare workers and people in professions that require human contact, through the open source design that is used worldwide and also by Makers against Corona. The face shields can be bought by organisations and individuals within Amsterdam, at cost of the material. 

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Livecast at Pakhuis de Zwijger

On April 17, Paulien Melis of Waag's MakeHealth Lab, together with Pieter van Boheemen and other maker initiatives, joined forces in a livecast organised by Pakhuis de Zwijger to talk about the role of design in times of corona. The livecast talked about the emergence of various initiatives, like the open source DIY COVID-19 decontamination toolkit made by design studio FROLIC. The toolkit extends the life of mouth masks by using UV-C light. Re-watch this livecast at Pakhuis de Zwijger (in English).

Overview of maker initiatives in times of corona