One of the biggest dangers in the current Covid-19 pandemic is that the coronavirus that causes it can live for long periods of time on metal and plastic surfaces. This means that anything you touch with your hand – including handles – can bring the virus one step close to your eyes or mouth, and overcome your natural defenses. 3D printing technology may lend a hand: Materialise, a Belgium-based pioneer in 3D printing has designed a 3D printed door opener that makes it possible to open and close doors with your arm, removing the need for direct contact with door handles. The company is offering the printable design for free and calling upon the global 3D printing community to 3D print the door opener and make it available all around the world.
The 3D printed door opener can be attached to existing door handles and features a paddle-shaped extension that allows people to open and close doors with their arm instead of their hands. For safety reasons, not all doors can remain open and by removing the need to touch door handles, the 3D printed door opener can help to reduce the spread of the virus.
The hands-free door opener can be fitted to a door handle without drilling holes or replacing the existing door handle. The first model can be attached to cylindrical handles and Materialise plans to introduce additional designs using different 3D printing technologies as needed in response to the spread of the Coronavirus.
The idea for the 3D printed door handle originated at an internal meeting to define measures to protect Materialise employees and visitors. It soon became clear that more people could benefit from this design and the company decided to make it available for free. Anyone with access to a 3D printer can download the design and 3D print it locally in a matter of hours. Through this technology, the 3D printed door opener could become available all over the world very quickly. In 2018 more than half a million 3D printers were sold globally. The file can be downloaded at https://www.materialise.com/en/hands-free-door-opener
3D printing is a digital manufacturing technology that makes it possible to create products quickly and in small batches. 3D printing also makes it possible to manufacture locally. As travel and transport become more difficult, the ability to manufacture locally becomes more important.
“The power of 3D printing in combination with Materialise’s three decades of 3D printing expertise made it possible to turn an idea into an innovative product in less than 24 hours,” says Fried Vancraen CEO of Materialise. “By making the design available digitally, it can be produced on 3D printers everywhere and become available around the world in a matter of hours. In this case, we designed the product in Belgium and people in China, Europe or the U.S. can now 3D print the door opener locally.”
People who don’t have access to a 3D printer or a local 3D print factory can also order the door opener via the i.materialise portal. A set of two hands-free door openers, including screws, is available for 40 euro. Materialise has three decades of experience in 3D printing and runs one of the largest 3D print factories in the world.
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