When doctors are trying to provide medical care in low-resource settings, the patient with atypical medical needs is probably going to be the one who suffers, and unfortunately there simply isn’t much that anyone can do about it. There are only so many supplies that can be purchased or transported to these areas, and it is virtually impossible to pack up an entire hospital full of supplies that may or may not be used. But it is possible that the future of medical care lies with low-cost, desktop 3D printing.
Imagine the ability to 3D print a device that is desperately needed but unavailable where you are. Medical centers and clinics in places like refugee camps or war zones could have a library of design files that would allow them to 3D print life-saving medical devices when needed. That means that rather than needing to keep hundreds of different products on hand, doctors would simply need to have a steady stream of medical-safe ABS and a small desktop 3D printer. The 3D files could range from something as simple as a finger brace to complicated surgical appliances or large splints and casts.
That’s the vision that Stratasys Medical Solutions Group, 3D4MD, had when they conceived of their latest collaboration with GrabCAD. The Oxygen Valve Splitter Challenge is a contest that challenges entrants to design a 3D printable oxygen splitter capable of allowing doctors to provide independently controlled oxygen flow rates (in liters per minute) for two different patients while allowing them to share a single oxygen tank. The splitter needs to be completely 3D printable on a desktop printer using ABS materials, and while that may sound pretty easy, it actually poses some pretty significant challenges. But not only would such a device conserve oxygen, which is often a precious resource in many of these settings, but it would allow more lives to be saved by allowing these clinics to use their resources on twice as many patients.
“I can only imagine that out in the field they will be carrying tanks that are mounted on the back of a truck. Just try and imagine in your mind what kind of hurdles the crew would encounter. Imagine all the negative roadblocks that would stop them from saving a life. And while you are at it, go ahead and imagine the smile of a new mother holding her newborn baby and being helped by the crew you designed stuff for…. blessings,” said GrabCAD Community member Don B shared in the Challenge comment section.
The Oxygen Valve Splitter Challenge is being sponsored by the Stratasys Medical Solution Group, a division of Stratasys that seeks to create solutions that will accelerate innovation in medical care, and encourage the adoption of new medical 3D printing technology; GrabCAD, one of the largest product development professional communities on the internet; and 3D4MD, a company that designs and produces 3D printable medical supplies that can save lives and resources in harsh, low-resource environments. An impressive lineup of judges will be joining them to help pick the winning designs, including Hawaii space exploration analog and simulation (Hi-SEAS IV) mission, International Committee of the Red Cross, Refugee Open Ware and 3D Printing House.
“For everyone in the room it was important to develop a Challenge that would solve a real world problem using widely available materials. The Oxygen Valve Splitter provides a solution to a common problem and can be produced virtually anywhere with a basic 3D printer,” explained GrabCAD Challenge Manager Paulina Perepelkin.
The deadline for entering the Challenge is January 7th, 2016, and the judges will announce the finalists by January 28th, 2016 where the GrabCAD community can pick their favorite and discuss the entries. The final winners will be announced on February 11th, 2016. There is a prize pool available of $3,400, 3D4MD and GrabCAD Swag and giveaways for top 10 winning designs. Full rules and requirements for entering the challenge are available over on GrabCad. Let us know if you participate in this challenge in the “Oxygen Valve Splitter Challenge” forum on 3DPB.com.