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RDC collaborates with Alberta’s manufacturing sector to produce PPE for essential service providers

Staff at long term care facilities use PPE manufactured at RDC.

Submitted by
Jasmine Nelson

Red Deer College is proud to help protect Albertans during the COVID-19 situation. RDC's Centre for Innovation in Manufacturing (CIM) team is working closely with the Alberta Additive Manufacturing Network (AAMN) to look at unique ways to help make Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for use by frontline workers, including Prusa face masks. 

The Prusa face shield design is fully open-source, which means that anyone can access, produce or modify it. The design uses easily accessible and inexpensive materials, and additionally required tools are readily available – such as a regular hole punch. These face shields are intended to support a range of frontline personnel in essential services. 

The AAMN, which is currently incubating at RDC, is a provincial network created to support our province to become a leader in industrial additive manufacturing (3D printing)In the Centre for Innovation in Manufacturing and RDC Makerspace, RDC enables collaboration between the many additive manufacturing (3D printing) providers.  No single service provider can meet the current demand for PPE so, as a network, Red Deer College, Innotech and Karma Manufacturing in Edmonton worked quickly to produce a few prototypes and trial the design. A number of healthcare workers in different facilities provided feedback on the prototypes, including an ER doctor at Red Deer Regional Hospital Centre who trialed a prototype produced in the CIM. Following this strong feedback, the AAMN put out an RFP to the additive manufacturing sector across the province.  

Along with 6 companies, RDC was able to contribute to the manufacture of 625 face shield units in 5 working days. Demand is high, and Red Deer Regional Hospital Centre’s ER department is distributing these shields to all 122 of their frontline members, including cleaning staff, nurses and doctors. Two long term care facilities in Red Deer also have access to the PPE they otherwise could not have sourced. This is just the tip of the iceberg for PPE needs, and requests from across the province continue to come in. 

By working together, the AAMN was able to support collaboration between many manufacturers to respond rapidly to a common need in our communityFacilitating collaboration and innovation, and supporting business and industry to access opportunities to accelerate their success are key missions of the CIM and RDC’s Applied Research and Business Development teams, making this project a natural fit. We look forward to continuing to support the needs of our community, including the health and safety of our frontline workers.  

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