When the COVID-19 crisis hit our country, I was at Columbia Business School in New York City, only a few months away from my MBA graduation. Suddenly, I found myself packing and leaving all the people who had made my last year and a half special.
It took me a short time to realize that, despite sadness, being in good health with my family safe and sound, it was time to react and do my best to contribute in a time of great uncertainty and difficulty.
I turned to my amazing team at Caracol – the additive manufacturing start-up, launched in 2018, that pushes the limits of manufacturing and innovation. As we always inspire and bring out the best of each other, we understood the potential extent of our industry’s contribution and started brainstorming on how we could provide support to our community.
After long hours of discussion, we came up with an idea: design and produce 3D Printing reusable protective masks with disposable filters.
In a time when people all over the world are fighting the virus without proper gear, countries are nationalizing medical equipment production and blocking exports, we decided to push our business to support global efforts during the pandemic as much as we could.
In a week, we produced more than 100 mask prototypes, we identified a set of potential partners to supply proper filters, and worked hard to come up with a device that could be an effective and sustainable solution to provide protection. We then tested the device with a team of over 20 doctors, policemen, civil protection operators and private firms to fine-tune and adjust the design to their diverse needs.
At the beginning, it felt like we were transforming our core, leveraging innovative and creative solutions to respond to this specific problem. Soon enough I realized that this project grew naturally from the DNA of our company, and both the efforts of the team and my realization of the impact we could make, made me proud and aware of the scope of our project in response to a global crisis.
This project grew naturally from the DNA of our company.
On March 30th we launched production, dedicating all of our 3D printers to the project and we have produced 1500 kits so far. In a week, we have also doubled our production capacity, and we now have 25 active industrial 3D printers running for the project.
At Caracol, we are still amazed by the incredible response of our community and network to our project. We have received support in terms of both endorsement and donations to the campaign we set up.
The funds we are collecting, will be used to produce the first 5000 kits (including 1 mask shell and 10 disposable filters each, corresponding to 50.000 disposable masks), which will be donated to Italian institutions. To further extend its impact and support as many countries as possible, we are already talking with potential partners all over the world, with the aim of supplying materials, the 3D file of our design and the necessary help to produce masks locally.
If you wish to support our project, please click on the following link and contribute to our cause: shorturl.at/aehCE. We hope that our small action, and the contributions of other companies in both the 3D printing industry and beyond, will help provide some relief to those fighting every day this global pandemic.