FROM DESIGN THINKING TO 3D PRINTING TO FIGHT THE PANDEMIC
In the last few weeks, we’ve seen many initiatives launched across the world to support communities and help people facing the pandemic. All over the world we’ve been applauding healthcare professionals. The public are creatively coming with new initiatives to support communities through this crisis, whether it be supporting research or for creating new intensive care units to assist the high number of those affected by Coronavirus. On Twitter, #COVIDkindness has become a trend thanks to people who share their uplifting stories amid pandemic.
Beyond personal and citizenship initiatives several non-profits and companies are helping to fight the pandemic. Konica Minolta has participated in some initiatives by providing various technologies to support healthcare professionals and solutions to help customers maintain business continuity.
LOOKING FOR OPPORTUNITIES WITH DESIGN THINKING
As they keep developing their research projects, our R&D teams are putting their efforts in supporting local communities and defining new solutions for these challenging times. For instance, with Ideation Workshops, we are looking to identify the everyday challenges our colleagues and partners are facing, the issues they encounter every day, and the genius solutions they identify. One of the core issues identified relates to the need to find new remote versions of co-workers’ contacts and relationships.
THE WHOLE WORLD IS 3D PRINTING MEDICAL DEVICES
Additive manufacturing is one of the possibilities to bridge digital and physical worlds. Indeed, we are seeing many countries across the world looking to 3D printers’ owners to support the 3D printing of healthcare protective equipment. This includes creating nasal swabs or ventilator parts. Even the Food and Drug Administration have started to focus on 3D printing of medical devices and offering guidance to manufacturers to support this initiative. One such manufacturer is Konica Minolta because our R&D team is currently 3D printing medical devices.
FROM A SIMPLIFIED CONCEPT DESIGN TO A PRODUCT
In the course of a weekend, Dr. Kasal and Ing. Aleš Prokopec designed a light, efficient and cheap protective face shield. Thereafter the 3D models were made publicly available, with the call to action for people with 3D printers to support the need to help create more face shields. Initially, responses arrived mainly from teachers, who started using the 3D printers located in currently closed schools. Then other companies with 3D printers and individuals started supporting this programme. Since 21st March, we’ve seen hundreds of volunteers across the Czech Republic have engaged in this movement to create protective shields for healthcare professionals.
R&D TEAMS OF KONICA MINOLTA JOINS THE INITIATIVE
Following the publication of our Digital Services R&D manifesto, and inspired by the humanitarian initiative, our colleagues from the Brno R&D laboratory decided to support ‘Tiskne Celé Česko’. “When I heard about the activity – says Zuzana Neverilova, Research specialist – I immediately thought about using the 3D printer we have in our lab. With the support of the managers in R&D, I was permitted to go to the office, with all the safety measures required by the COVID-19 situation, and start 3D printing”.
Printing the components of the protective shield takes a little more than 2 hours, and it has provided vital support for hospitals around the country. So far, thanks to this initiative, more than have been delivered to healthcare professionals in Czech Republic, but the need from hospitals keeps increasing.
OPTIMISING THE SUPPLY CHAIN
As a positive takeaway from this experience, we may derive that great participation of companies and citizens demonstrates how successful can be the combination of digital technologies with altruistic objectives. The Tiskne Celé initiative has succeeded because a unique coordination have managed locally each step of the supply chain, including production of components, assembly and shipping.