TechInAfrica – In South Africa, 3D printers are helping the battle with COVID-19 through the creation of face shields as personal protection equipment (PPE). With its Cheetah Pro 3D printer, Fouche 3D Printing company has managed to produce as much as 500 shields each day that get transferred to Railways Cafe to complete the full piece along with the headband and visor.
Founder and operator Hans Fouche believe in the efficiency of production with sufficient material.
“I have believed in the tagline ‘prints 10 times faster, with material that cost a tenth of filament’. I have marketed along those lines for quite some time, but it didn’t really sink in. It is sad that it have taken this horrible virus and the masks to illustrate that point,” Fouche says.
According to Fouche, his company can produce 85 masks with just R1.50 material cost, which is significantly low compared to the common 3D printer that produces 10 mask frames with the filament costing at R12.50. Fouche has also demonstrated Cheetah’s capability for a 24-hour shift on the company’s official Facebook page.
This week alone, about 4,500 face shield frames have been printed, but considering the high daily produce, it’s possible that the numbers are higher than what the tally displayed.
But it’s not the company’s first venture into the medical scene. It has worked with a local medical company to print face shields before partnering with Railways Café after producing more batches to step up the project development. In the past, Fouche has been printing Marmite furniture, skateboard decks, playable guitars, and car jacks with their distinct granule-based system instead of the more common wire filament.
The partnership with Railways Café, a venture in Irene with the focus of empowering the local community has allowed Fouche in producing a large batch of PPEs, and the cafe itself has assisted in completing three to four thousand face shields and distributed them to many institutions along with the donations. The venture also noted Fouche’s frame durability that allows it to be re-used more than once.
For those who are interested in joining the effort, contact Fouche 3D printing or Railways Cafe and get updated with the latest effort by joining 3D Printing South Africa Facebook group where owners of the Cheetah printer can help produce more shields.