GSD’s Fabrication Lab facilities being considered for possible production of medical supplies

Members of the Harvard GSD community are proactively exploring how we might best leverage our skills and resources to help with the COVID-19 outbreak and its impacts in any ways that we can.

Most recently, the GSD’s Assistant Dean for Information Technology Stephen Ervin and 3-D Fabrication Specialist Chris Hansen have been in consultation with the newly formed Mass General Brigham (MGB) Center for COVID Innovation to explore whether and how the GSD’s Fabrication Lab facilities, including 3-D printers, might be put to work to address critical shortages in Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for front-line medical personnel—PPE such as face masks, and diagnostic aids such as nasopharyngeal test swabs. Together with the GSD’s Martin Bechthold, Kumagai Professor of Architectural Technology and Director of the Doctor of Design Studies and Master in Design Engineering programs, Ervin and Hansen are coordinating with other Harvard partners, including the John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS), the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering, Harvard Medical School, and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

The MGB Center for COVID Innovation is organizing working groups to find rapid ways to pare down the hundreds of PPE designs currently available on the internet to the designs that are the most promising and feasible. The goal is to identify the best designs for printing and implementation strategies of 3-D printers, whether it be home printers, large-factory 3-D printers, or clusters of 3-D printers such as those in Gund Hall. These designs must then be prototyped, tested, and validated by medical professionals, since they are to be used in clinical settings.

These GSD staff and faculty are working with Harvard’s Environmental Health and Safety (EH&S) group, GSD’s Director of Facilities Management Kevin Cahill, GSD Building Services staff, and custodial personnel to establish internal safety controls, so that a small number of GSD Fabrication Lab staff and others might enter Gund Hall in coming weeks to proceed with production. The urgency and gravity of the needs are evident, as is the requirement that these contributions meet strict public and personal health requirements. As soon as we can move forward, we will do so.