Ed Devane is a sound artist living in Donegal. He has been using digital fabrication technologies such as laser cutters and 3D printers to build sound installations and musical instruments for several years. After being left unemployed because of the Covid-19 pandemic he found a group that were actively producing visors for Letterkenny Hospital. The project was set up by a schoolteacher called Gary Gorman and there are now about 28 people involved with many schools using their 3D printers to produce Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) items.
Ed told us how the team project works: “It’s hard to keep material sterile with 3D printing so what we are making are single-use items. I’m making the headbands for the visors which another guy then makes the face shields for. Another guy is involved in assembling the finished product and putting them into sterile packs. I have two 3D printers. I had used them for a project I was involved in with the Science Gallery in Dublin recently.”
Ed can make eight visor bands a day and had manufactured 30 in his first week on the project. While Ed had the time and the equipment, the money for materials started to run out. It costs him about €100 per week so he started to crowd fund in order to continue production and keep his machines going. He made more than he expected so once he had enough to keep his machines running for a few more weeks, he gave the rest to Gary distribute to the rest of the group. Ed is glad that their use of innovative technologies can help healthcare workers at this time and hopes bigger companies will be able to get on board and produce items on a much bigger scale.
“The process we use means our products are single use, but I’ve been talking to a friend who is developing another prototype using laser cutters. This would allow us to make more durable items beyond single use. We are just a stopgap until bigger companies can re-tool and start manufacturing this stuff on a much bigger scale. We just wanted to do what we could to help in the interim period.”
You can still donate to the project here: