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FCAD prototypes critical medical supplies

FCAD collaborates with the hospital sector to prototype and develop vital medical supplies for health professionals and the public
March 31, 2020

In light of the developing global health situation, FCAD’s Creative Technology Lab is collaborating with several hospitals in Toronto and a medical innovation network, called Glia, to help battle the shortage of medical supplies during the COVID-19 pandemic for both medical professionals and the public. Blending creative thought application, on-site state-of-the-art technology and medical expertise, FCAD is prototyping two types of personal protective equipment (PPE)  -- plastic face shields and hand-made sustainable face masks. The Creative Technology Lab is creating proof of concept for face shields within its facilities, using four laser cutters and 40 3D printers, while three faculty members from the School of Fashion develop preliminary prototypes for a hand-made sustainable face mask.

“Periods of crisis really clarify how health and education are essentially inseparable,” said Azad Mashari, staff anesthesiologist and director of the Lynn and Arnold Irwin Advanced Perioperative Imaging Lab at Toronto General Hospital. “The fact that we could mobilize our project so quickly was in large part because we could rapidly find a pool of highly skilled volunteers who offered their time.”

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3D printers housed in the Creative Technology Lab

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3D printers in action creating face shield headpieces 

Working with Toronto General Hospital through the Glia network, the lab is using  3D printing technology and laser cutting to develop face shield prototypes. Now in its third generation of testing, 100 iterations of the face shield are currently being tested by the medical community to finalize the design and begin off-site production. In addition to the face shield prototype, Jonathon Anderson, director of the Creative Technology Lab, is experimenting with other technological means that drastically reduce production time.

“To create the face shields, we are 3D printing the headpiece unit and laser cutting the plastic shield,” said Jonathon Anderson, director of the Creative Technology Lab. “Further, in efforts to reduce production time and fill demand, our team is exploring the unique production of molds and designing with a casting process.”

Jonathon’s innovative approach to explore making face shield headpieces through a casting process, as opposed to using a 3D printer, could cut the production time of a viable product from four hours to 15 minutes. The prototypes created by this novel technique will be tested and refined in collaboration with Unity Health Toronto, which includes St. Michael’s Hospital, St. Joseph’s Health Centre and Providence Healthcare. In addition to the Creative Technology Lab supplying Unity Health Toronto with face shield prototypes for testing, three faculty members from the School of Fashion are tackling the development of a prototype for a sustainable face mask.

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Jonathon Anderson modelling the face shield prototype

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Materials prepared to begin the casting process for face shield headpieces

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Mold being created using the casting process

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Face shield headpiece prototype made with the casting process

Ryerson University’s President and Vice-Chancellor, Mohamed Lachemi, believes that these novel collaborations are mutually beneficial to the Ryerson community and the city at large. "Our partnerships with our local hospitals have offered invaluable learning opportunities for our students and we are proud to be able to support their critical work at such an important time," said Mohamed. "Our faculty and students are not only assisting by providing access to our state-of-the-art tools and resources, their expertise in design and fabrication is also contributing to the enhanced design and production of these important pieces of safety equipment. I am extremely proud of this collaboration." 

Assistant Professor Danielle Martin, Associate Professors Sandra Tullio-Pow and Henry Navarro are advancing through the preliminary stages of creating a hand-made facemask that can be washed and sterilized for continued use while maintaining its medical-grade efficiency. Connecting with health industry professionals, the designs are currently being refined based on initial feedback regarding optimal shape, fit and material use. Several prototypes of the masks in different sizes are being presented to St. Michael’s hospital this week.

“We want to support the efforts of the front line workers as best we can in battling COVID-19,” said Charles Falzon, Dean of FCAD. “We’ll be awaiting feedback from the hospital teams to further refine our designs as needed.”

Leveraging the strengths of interdisciplinary co-creation and novel creative innovation, FCAD units will continue to work closely with each other as well as the medical community to provide support for front-line workers and the general public. 

FCAD at Ryerson University

Entering its eighth decade, FCAD is a global centre of media and creative invention. As a disrupter in innovative education, FCAD is dedicated to developing creators with authentic voices who engage directly with creative industries around the world.

With 23 undergraduate and graduate programs that are shaping the future of their fields and tight-knit partnerships around the world, FCAD offers more opportunities to educate the next generation of creative leaders than anywhere else.


Media contact:

Nicole Bartnicki
FCAD at Ryerson University
Coordinator, Marketing and Communications