Mar 21, 2016 | By Benedict

Crowd4Africa, a charitable organization based in Rome, Italy, is looking to raise €22,900 ($25,800) to provide 3D printing “mini factories” for two hospitals in Africa, one in Uganda and one in Congo. The mini factories will include equipment for turning plastic waste into 3D printing filament.

Renato Regianni, a student at Rome’s Massimiliano Massimo Institute, has been keeping a close eye on global medical and technological developments for several years. A few months ago, Regianni started corresponding with Caritas, a Catholic charity operating in a number of countries around the world, which informed the student of an important problem faced by several hospitals in Africa: a lack of spare parts for crucial machines and systems, which in some cases has forced entire hospitals to temporarily close down while staff try to obtain a replacement part. Thinking about this problem, Regianni and a group of friends realized that 3D printing could provide the perfect solution both to this problem and to the problem of expensive and hard-to-find prostheses.

Crowd4Africa, the organization of which Regianni is a member, consists of fifteen students aged 15-17 from the Massimiliano Massimo Institute, working with 20 volunteers from the industrial, academic, and healthcare industries and receiving additional help from 69 children and 40 parents from Making 3D Printers, a course teaching students aged 8-15 how to design and build their own 3D printer. The organization’s latest project has two key objectives: to enable two African hospitals to produce replacement plastic parts for machinery, and to enable them to 3D print affordable prostheses for patients.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), only 2% of the 20 million people who require prostheses receive the necessary help for their condition. To maximize the benefits to those in need, the United Nations (UN) recommends that prostheses be manufactured in the area where they are to be distributed, reducing the cost of each prosthetic device from $300 to less than $10, as well as greatly reducing waiting time for patients.

With this information in mind, Crowd4Africa is looking to set up a 3D printing mini factory in Lacor Hospital, Uganda, and the Caritas Centre of Kenge, Congo. Each 3D printing mini factory will consist of a Filamaker mini XXL Shredder (€699) for converting plastic waste into pellets, a Noztek Pro extruder (€1,930) for turning those pellets into filament, a 3D Systems Sense 3D scanner (€442) for obtaining data for prostheses, an EWE Olympia 3D printer (€5,978), 2x smaller 3Drag Futura Electronics 3D printers with CNC mill adapter kits ($900), and several other tools and accessories.

In order to fund the two 3D printer mini factories, Crowd4Africa must raise €22,900. With 22 days of its Eppela campaign still left to run, the organization has already collected almost €15,000, putting it on course to smash its target and deliver its vital 3D printing equipment to both hospitals. Various incentives are offered to backers of the campaign, such as the chance to be a guest at one of the organization’s laboratories to assist the 3D printing of a prosthesis from plastic caps (€1,000).

Lacor Hospital is the biggest non-profit facility in Uganda, helping more than a quarter of a million people every year, while the Kenge Caritas Centre in Congo employs only one physician, Dr Chiara Castellani, for 150,000 people across 5,000 square kilometers. Both facilities could benefit greatly from the assistance of 3D printing equipment, and Crowd4Africa will be giving a big final push over the next few weeks to ensure that it meets its target.



Posted in 3D Printing Application



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