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May 9, 2020

Hacking for Covid-19 with Collaboration and Fabrication: Five FabCafe Bangkok Projects

FabCafe Global Editorial Team

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, news regarding shortage of medical supplies, including masks and life-saving ventilators, points to the on-the-ground reactions of makers around the world. From hacking snorkels into ventilators to open source hands-free 3D-printed door openers to help against the spread of coronavirus, makers around the world are joining hands with their 3D printers and fabrication skills to create prototypes for the general public as well as medical professionals.

FabCafe Bangkok is serving a role in this as they collaborate with doctors, engineers, designers, and manufacturing companies to design and deploy life-saving equipment in Thailand. A key point of their work has been to have the user (the doctors) at the center of each stage of the co-creation process. Here are 5 of their key projects:

Project #1 Open Source Face Shields and the 100 Message Project

FabCafe Bangkok has fabricated and experimented with 5 face shield designs, using data from a variety of open source websites.

[1] PRUSA PROTECTIVE FACE SHIELD RC 2
This 3D printed face shield, from the 3D PRINT PRUSA manufacturer, is a popular type of mask template because of its small size and strong strength. The printing takes approximately 3 hours to print and is being updated as needed. There is now a newer version, the R3 version.
Download here: https://www.prusaprinters.org/prints/25857-prusa-protective-face-shield…

[2] FACE SHIELD WIREFRAME
The work that TTGEEK has created uses very little material. Weighing around 7.65 grams, it takes approximately 50 minutes to print. This shield is suitable for urgent needs.
Download here: https://www.thingiverse.com/thing:4229703…

[3] PROTECTIVE VISOR
This protective visor is popular as a minimal design. It was released prior to the FACE SHIELD WIREFRAME and is the fastest face shield to print so far!
Download here: https://3dverkstan.se/protect…/protective-visor-print-guide/…

[4] OPEN SOURCE FACE SHIELD FOR MEDICAL AND FIRSTLINE HEROES
Who has access to laser cutters or CNC machines? The open source hardware team has made a FACE SHIELD design that requires less production time, is easily transported and has the lowest overall cost. Although it’s much faster, the design is flat and medical workers have reported it to be less comfortable.

[5] COVID-19 WIREFRAME FACE SHIELD
This model has been praised for its great performance on the frontline. An additional plus, there is no need for any fabrication machines- this face shield can be made by hand using PET SHEET, PU FOAM, and rubber bands. The only challenge is gathering the different types of materials. Very practical and a favorite among medical professionals.
Download here:
https://www.delve.com/…/OPEN-SOURCE-FACE-SHIELD-DRAWING-v1.

#100MessageProject

In addition to printing and assembling these face shields, FabCafe Bangkok’s 100 Message Project, designed by Waen Chartvutkorbkul and curated by designers Kanit-tha Nual and Anek Jeab, embeds a little more meaning into the face shields.

In the 100 Message Project, over 100 designers have submitted handwritten or custom designed encouraging messages to communicate their appreciation and admiration for frontline heroes.

Messages such as “You are my hero! Thank you for never giving up!”, “You are the best frontliners!” have been engraved onto the acrylic shields using the laser cutter.

These uplifting face shields have been deployed not only in Bangkok but also in less populated areas where access to medical supplies is especially limited. Yala, Thailand is one of these places. Being 15 hours away by train from Bangkok, hospitals in Yala have faced a tough situation with limited resources.

In addition to Yala, for the 100 Message Project, FabCafe has sent 50 face shields to Rachaburi as well. Sent separately, between 20-50 3D face shield pieces have been delivered to 22 other hospitals with less than 50 staff members. In total, over 1000 face shields have been produced and deployed.

Project #2: Swab Shield

Sometimes face shields aren’t enough and medical professionals might need extra protection or a design that works better in a particular situation. In this project, Assoc. Prof. Rattaplee Pak-Art, MD, from the Department of Surgery at Chulalongkorn Memorial Hospital, operated by the Thai Red Cross, contacted FabCafe and co-created a Swab Shield to protect medical professionals.

When doing swab testing for infection in a patient’s throat or nose, patients sometimes sneeze or cough close to the medical professional’s face from the tickle of the swab. This shield protects the medical professional from this sneeze spray and other potential cross contamination. 

To increase the scale of the production of the Swab Shields, the team worked with another partner who used the Taejai Crowdfunding website to raise the funds necessary to bring this project out to hospitals where it is needed. FabCafe Bangkok has now co-created and deployed more than 100 swab shields.

Project #3: COVID-19 Examination Booth


Hospitals serve as treatment facilities but in some unlucky cases, they can become a major hub for a cluster which can infect both patients and medical staff. One of the biggest problems right now in Bangkok is that not all hospitals have a negative pressure room to protect staff members from the virus. If the patient sneezes or touches something the doctor then touches, the virus can be easily spread.

The Testing Booth was designed at the lead and request of doctors Dr. Pasutachate Samorn, MD, Dr. Supakj Khomvilai, MD, Assoc. and Prof Rataplee Pak-Art, MD, The development of the prototype was done alongside a bigger team of engineers and designers, including Nummom Rareness and Smile O2. After going through more than 5 prototypes, the final design has been sent to Rareness for final production.

These testing booths not only prevent possible infections but they also save time. The usual procedure for treating patients with the virus requires medical professionals to change their clothes/protective gear and sanitize the room and any furniture that may have been touched. However, with the test booth, repeated decontamination becomes unnecessary since direct contact isn’t made. This adds protection for the doctors and the patients.

FabCafe Bangkok and Taejai Crowdfunding is now working with the German company, Luftfilterbau GMBH to manufacture and deliver more HEPA H14 (High Efficiency Particulate Air) filters for this project as well to hospitals who are requesting them.

Project #5: PAPR (Purifying Respirator) system


Currently, with the direction of
Assistant Prof. Boonrat Lohwongwatana, the Faculty of Medicine and the Faculty of Nursing at Chulalongkorn University, and Design Director Jeep. P. Narongthanarath (Design In Vitro), FabCafe Bangkok is developing a PAPR (Purifying Respirator) system which will likely be one of the most impactful projects of all.

PAPR systems use a blower instead of lung power to draw air through the filter, which allows for constant breathing and provides an integrated protection against multiple hazards by providing respiratory, head, face, eye and hearing protection. PAPR systems sound like great medical protection equipment for COVID-19, however, currently there are a limited number for all hospitals in Thailand.

With the doctors, nurses and engineers giving timely feedback to the project, the design team is preparing several prototypes with the aim to fully produce a PAPR system. In order to achieve this, the factory Delta motors are providing high quality motors for the blower, and Sharp is providing the necessary HEPA (High Efficiency Particulate Air Filter) filters for removing impurities from the air. Since PAPR systems are highly engineered products and require strict medical stands for deployment, the team is now in the process of applying for emergency FDA approval.

Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.

-Theodore Roosevelt

One critique of the massive 3D printing being done in response to Covid-19 is that many well-intentioned makers are going online, downloading the files and then printing in mass without consulting the users (the medical professionals).Without consulting the users, some of the items being fabricated, especially specialized ventilator parts, are going to waste.

A common thread between each of the above projects is the intentional focus on letting the major stakeholders and users lead the projects with the support of FabCafe in order to create a final product that will be used right away.  At FabCafe Bangkok, teams work closely and let the user lead the group. By supporting the project in this way, every stakeholder can contribute effectively resulting in a higher quality product that can be deployed quickly and efficiently.

We look forward to seeing what other works come forth from FabCafe Bangkok and their co-creating teams!


To inquire about FabCafe Bangkok or other FabCafe Global activities, please contact us at global@fabcafe.com


To hear about the experiences of FabCafe Bangkok and other maker space communities, please join the Maker Communities Respond to COVID-19 – Online Meetup on April 24th, 18:00 Japan-time.

About FabCafe Global 
Inspired by the ‘Fab’ revolution as prescribed by MIT maverick Neil Gershenfeld, FabCafe is a series of ‘Fab’ innovation labs that specialize in creating products, services and experiences of the future. Here, maker enthusiasts, businesses and everyday people can access digital fabrication tools and experiences for fields ranging from fashion to bio. Founded in Tokyo in 2012, FabCafe’s global network now serves and fosters creative communities in 11 locations around the world, including Bangkok, Barcelona, Hong Kong, and many more.

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  • FabCafe Global Editorial Team

    This articles is edited by FabCafe Global.

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    This articles is edited by FabCafe Global.

    Please feel free to share your thoughts and opinions on this article with us.
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