Joint efforts of partners as a support to the health system

28.03.2020

At the starting initiative and with the coordination of the Science and Technology Park, the Faculty of Electrical Engineering of the University of Montenegro and the Innovation and entrepreneurship center Tehnopolis from Niksic, with the full support of the Ministry of Science of Montenegro, start to create a wider coalition for 3D printing in Montenegro. Namely, many other Montenegrin colleagues went to 3D printing at similar steps, first of all protective visors for healthcare professionals and already delivered certain quantities. We are negotiating with numerous companies and institutions to help the 3D printing industry in Montenegro and assist the healthcare system in the current fight. 3D printers were made available by Faculty of Mechanical Engineering, Universities of Montenegro, Hiron Creative Lab, Arhitektonika, Drone Studio, Vakom, 3D Print Montenegro, as well as 3D Factory with which we have formed a 3D cluster that will produce these protective devices with no charge in the upcoming days, as long as needed.

The capital of Podgorica has also put its 3D printing resources into the support of the health care system through its work in the Competence Center, and they have already made a significant contribution. Besides the above-mentioned institutions and companies, a very significant cluster was created by our colleagues from the 3D Room and Open Box Studio, University of Donja Gorica, Mtel Digital Factory, elementary schools ‘Sutjeska’, ‘Stampar Makarije’ and ‘Oktoih’, Library for the Blind of Montenegro and company Machine Center – Remid Vis doo.

In the next period, we will join forces and work together to produce protective visors and equipment in collaboration with the National Coordinating Body and the Institute of Public Health.

In addition to the components we currently print, we are constantly working to find new 3D models that could answer the needs of the healthcare system. For this reason, we have used our international contacts and communicated with our partners in several countries to find solutions to more complex problems with our 3D printer.

In cooperation with partners from the Czech Republic, we have received models for printing protective masks that have received certificates from the Czech health system. The models were provided to us via the Embassy of the Czech Technical Faculty, which worked hard to develop a model for printing a mask that would be helpful in this situation, especially to healthcare professionals. Also, the Leitat Research Institute from Barcelona, the partner of NTP, with the support of companies Airbus, Seat and HP, has designed a medically-certified terrain respirator, made by using a 3D printer. This respirator has been certified in Spain by the health system and has been currently in use. If our capacities would be able to support the printing of one sample of this respirator, we would start printing it. After checking its functionality, it can be of great help to our healthcare system. We would like to mention the cooperation with the organization “Visionaries of Serbia”, which will also provide us with some of the materials and already printed models of frames for visors.

In the next period, we will use other ways of producing visors besides 3D printing, such as the production of the cut clit or plastic injection, which can help us to produce significant quantities of these products in the shortest possible time period.

Considering the large volume of work that the Montenegrin health institutions have been facing in this period, we are aware of the lack of time in which they could devote themselves to the disinfection of the delivered items, so we came up with the idea that we do the disinfection and packaging of the items ourselves in the IPC Tehnopolis laboratory. With this process, we significantly shorten the time it takes an institution to prepare items for their use, as they get already prepared items. This is a specific process of disinfection of protective medical equipment and further transport, which goes as follows:

  • All items of protective medical equipment are treated with 70% alcohol and delivered to the laboratory;
  • The rooms for the assembly and packaging process, as well as the working surfaces, have been previously disinfected by turning on the UV lamp and wiping the work surfaces with a disinfectant. In this room every further action is carried out in connection with this process under controlled conditions;
  • A person who assembles and packs all the pieces of protective equipment for medical professionals wears protective equipment: gloves, mask, cap and coat;
  • When the equipment is assembled, it is packed in a vacuum bag or ordinary bag depending on the resources;
  • Then the packaged equipment is partially vacuumed and if packaged in ordinary bags, is welded;
  • Packed equipment is exposed to UV rays again, after which it is put in packages and transported.

These are just some examples of how science and innovation can be of service to public health and society in general. The efforts of the Ministry of Science through funding various innovation and development projects in Montenegro greatly contribute to the community’s ability to cope not only with emergencies but also with the challenges of modern society as a whole. For this reason, in the future, increasing attention should be paid to these segments of development based on innovation and the latest technologies that support our society in various fields. Science and technology in numerous spheres show that they are becoming more and more accessible to more people. The situation with the COVID-19 virus has shown precisely the awakening and proactive action of not only the institutions of the system but also of numerous small and medium-sized companies, individuals and all others who have made a specific contribution to help with scarce models of medical equipment.

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