Lagos Ciência Viva Science Centre launched the effort
to create and supply protective face visors to the medical
community using 3D printing techniques.
Leading the call to action was their Executive Director,
Luis Azevedo Rodrigues, who talks to Sophie Sadler
about this astonishing project.
Project 3D Mask Portugal
By Tracy Burton
Lagos Ciência Viva Science Centre launched the effort to create and supply protective face visors to the medical community using 3D printing techniques. Leading the call to action was their Executive Director, Luis Azevedo Rodrigues, who talks to Sophie Sadler about this astonishing project.
The Director of the Lagos Ciência Viva Luis Rodrigues has been a difficult man to pin down. Which is not surprising given that he has led the charge which has united the Algarve's Ciência Viva science centres, volunteers and Makers into creating 1100 masks to date.
He tells me that the initial idea came to him when he saw a post from a group of Makers in Lisbon. The Maker culture is a contemporary subculture representing a technology-based extension of DIY. They are individuals who are constantly exploring in areas such as 3D printing or electronics and are experimenting all the time with different production techniques.
Luis recalls, “This all seems now like it happened years ago, but the idea for the masks started on 21 March, the Saturday after the museum closed. I saw a group of Makers in Lisbon (3D Mask Pt) were starting to produce facial masks using 3D printing techniques which was a technology we had at the Lagos Science Museum. That day I allowed some of my staff who have human resources in 3D printing to take the equipment to their home”.
This initiative would not have been possible without the Maker Movement who created public files which Luis' staff printed at home. Luis, however, was instrumental in spotting a huge opportunity to get the network of Ciência Viva involved. “I contacted the national agency to ask if we could involve other science centres into the project.”
3D modelling is the process of creating or reproducing objects with three dimensions using specific software. Normally the centre uses its equipment to produce replicas of dinosaur footprints or objects for workshops and educational programmes. Now it was needed for a more challenging role.
The printing stage was facilitated with the use of the Science Centre’s CNC machinery (Computer Numerical Control) a manufacturing process controlled by computer programmes. They use this to produce the 3D frames and more owners of this equipment came forward to help.
They launched an appeal asking for 3D printers, 3D printer filament, CNC to cut the PET and elastic. Their aim was to unite volunteers with access to a 3D printer to a common cause: the production and distribution of visors for health care professionals who were fighting the COVID 19 pandemic.