Following the joint efforts of the entire Insper Community to mitigate the impact of COVID-19, we had started a series of interviews with professors and managers to address actions taken by our school, as well as tips and guidelines in the most diverse fields to help overcome the challenges of this period.
In this first edition, the interviewee is Daniel Krás, Laboratory Manager at Fab Lab. He addresses the beginning of the school’s work in printing and testing of models of parts for protective devices used by Healthcare professionals, such as face shields.
1) How did Fab Lab’s idea to help mitigate the advance of the new coronavirus come about?
Fab Lab is part of Insper. So, like in the whole institution, our first step was to start remote working and social distancing (which until now is the most important tool in combating COVID-19).
Through the FabLab Brasil Network, announcements from the international one (FabLabs.io), and discussion groups, we had become aware of maker initiatives around the world. Both the maker community and the Insper community (alumni, students, and institutional partners), contacted each other to enable some help by producing equipment. Team mobilization had already begun.
On March 23, on the Diário Oficial da União (Brazil’s Federal Official Journal), was published an ordinance which had opened an opportunity for independent producers to offer products to health agents, as long as they were validated and authorized by someone with technical competence and produced properly.
On the following days, Fab Lab’s team had carried out an analysis of opportunities for collaboration with the community. We also had asked the Board for authorization to engage in the organized activities: Available project documentation, available channels of validation with specialists, and available materials to start the project.
The Board had authorized the start of activities, and so we had begun to organize team relays for the job.
2) How does this work is done?
The work carried out at the laboratory consists of 3D-printing of the pieces and sheet metal cutting for prototype testing and validation. The work is done at the lab or remotely happens through project assessment and modifications, coordination of activities between team members, and development of scalable solutions. That is, we learn from the international network, replicate the knowledge here, validate it locally and, from that, we seek to develop high-scale production solutions
The partnership between Insper Fab Lab and other initiatives has the purpose of facilitating access to medical specialists, like what already happened last week during the visit to the Hospital das Clínicas (University of São Paulo Faculty of Medicine Clinics Hospital), in São Paulo.
Such requests of support to Insper laboratories for activities related to combating COVID-19 are forwarded to me. I help organize the participation of the technical team by checking people and equipment availability. People are also included in debates to give their opinion and point out how they would help.
This new set of activities is significant at this moment but not more important than fulfilling Insper’s purpose for students and professors. Some Engineering Capstone Project (PFE, for its acronym in Portuguese) groups demand laboratories too. So, the organization of activities must be synced for us to get everything done, maximizing the positive impact.
3) Is there a forecast of the number of pieces to be manufactured?
There is not yet a forecast of the total of pieces to produce. An impressive production of pieces is not the best contribution from the Fab Lab, whose major strength is fast prototyping. In the protective masks (face shields) work front, we are improving their design for validation both at ICUs and the other activities. It will allow for the production of molds and manufacturing through plastic injection molding, thus obtaining a significant number of units.
4) What does it mean, for you, being able to collaborate in the production of important pieces for combating the new coronavirus?
It is a wonderful and fulfilling activity. However, as a product can be harmful to another person if it is not well-made, it also requires much responsibility.
5) Do you believe this initiative and others developed at Fab Labs in this moment of crisis can further boost the maker culture?
I believe so. The facts show people working collaboratively for the common good, developing projects, testing, and validating them with a speed that is hard to find in other business models. People create, share them with the network, wait for feedback and improvements, and present new versions, always seeking a better result for users.
Daniel Krás has bachelor’s degrees both in Philosophy and Control & Automation and holds a graduate degree in Business Management. He received the Fab Academy certification in 2017, from Insper Fab Lab, and currently serves as its manager. This position is a reference point for internal and external demands, accommodating team activities, and enabling the availability of resources and supplies.