Rexroth has been involved with many great adventures, from Arctic exploration to building the Panama Canal. Now, Rexroth is involved with the effort to provide medical masks for healthcare professionals around the world.
Tectra Automation Mechatronics is a South African subsidiary of Bosch Rexroth. Technicians there designed a reusable medical-grade mask that can be 3-D printed from their homes. Tectra Automation Mechatronics is covering the costs of materials.
Lack of PPE
Lack of protective gear like face masks is a global problem. In the UK, one recent study found that as many as 72% of medical personnel cannot access needed face masks. Some healthcare workers reported being told to hold their breath if they can’t get a new face mask.
In South Africa, shortages have led to reuse of masks. In some areas, healthcare professionals are issued one mask per month. South Africa’s population has a high percentage of people with conditions like HIV, diabetes, and tuberculosis. These conditions increase the likelihood that people who get the virus will have to be seen in hospitals.
Face masks are intended to be worn once and then disposed of before the workers move on to the next patient. Workers might need 14 to 28 masks (plus gowns and face shields) each day. Reusing the masks makes them much less effective.
South Africa’s Health Minister has called on ordinary people to use masks now, just as the CDC in America has. Taxi drivers are required to use them and provide them for passengers, too. This additional demand makes the shortage of masks seem like an insoluble problem.
The new design from Tectra Automation Mechatronics is designed to be reused, with a disposable filter that can be changed as often as necessary. The mask is held to the face with clips which are also being produced with 3-D printers.
If they can produce enough masks, they could be a game-changer for South Africa.
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