Could dentist’s 3D printer help ease medical masks shortage?
A JERSEY dentist is harnessing 3D printing technology to manufacture protective face shields that could be used by healthcare workers.
Concerned by reports from the UK about a shortage of protective equipment for those at the frontline of the battle against coronavirus, Dr Ivo Raitchev has successfully produced prototype shields on a 3D printer.
Dr Raitchev, who works at Confidence Dental & Wellbeing at Castle Quay in St Helier, said that while talking to friends in the UK, he realised that his interest in 3D printing could be harnessed to manufacture protective equipment.
‘This is an unprecedented situation, and it’s been concerning to hear of the challenges that some people are facing,’ he said. ‘I was based in London before moving to Jersey [in 2017] and I know a lot of people there who are involved in fighting coronavirus and are under a lot of pressure.
‘We won’t be doing a lot of dental work for the moment, except for emergency work, and so I wanted to be contributing something useful.’
The 3D printing process builds a three-dimensional object from a computer-aided design model, usually by successively adding material layer by layer. In dentistry, such machines can be used in the production of crowns, models and surgical guides.
After first using a basic 3D printer three years ago, Dr Raitchev developed a growing interest in the topic and now uses a £13,000 NextDent 5100 printer.
‘The NextDent is one of the best on the market and has a large build platform,’ he said.
‘I’m at quite an early stage, but the early results are positive and I have been sharing information with other dentists and via online forums,’ he said.
The plastic shields have a gap for a filter, which can be disposed of after use while the plastic shield itself can be sterilised and reused.
Dr Raitchev said that he hoped other equipment could be manufactured in the same way. One example would be splitters for ventilators which would enable a ventilator to be used by more than one patient if necessary, as well as protective masks.
Having ordered additional supplies of resin for use in his 3D printing initiative, Dr Raitchev intends to make masks available to those who are working in healthcare in order to maximise their protection.
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