The effects of the devastating earthquake that hit Haiti in 2010 are still affecting the work of aid groups and health care workers, but they're now getting some help from an unconventional source: 3D printers.
A project called iLab Haiti, which is an initiative of Kid Mob, has brought several MakerBot 3D printers to Port-au-Prince, Haiti, and is using them to produce prototypes of certain basic medical supplies, such as umbilical cord clamps, on demand.
iLab Haiti, based at the Haiti Communitere facility, is currently using ABS plastic to print the devices, and while they aren't quite a finished product yet, it's hoped that further iterations will bring the devices up to medical standards.In an interview with NPR, Ashley Dara from iLab Haiti gives some background to the project:
"... while I was in Haiti last year, a dear friend of mine was running a hospital all by herself with limited resources. One night she wound up having to deliver five babies and they had no umbilical cord clamps, so they were using their own rubber gloves, cutting them to tie off the umbilical cords, which meant that they went through their rubber gloves and had to then deliver babies barehanded with women that were HIV-positive.
And all I could think was, wow, if we had a 3-D printer, I could've been printing on-demand umbilical cord clamps for you." - Dara
iLab Haiti is said to be looking for additional collaborators for their project, such as working with companies that have the technology to take recycled everyday plastics and turn them into useable 3D printer filament. The team hopes to be able to teach some locals how to model 3D objects and to repair the machines, which will give them further tools to come up with creative solutions to their pressing local problems.