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PPE Creation (3D Printing & Sewing) in Rhode Island

Last Updated: May 6, 2020


Our project was to find creative avenues to address the shortage of PPE in Rhode Island. We divided into two teams: One team focused on 3D printing and manufacturing; the second focused on sewing cloth masks.  

3D Printed N95s: The 3D Alpert Medical School (AMS) team is working in collaboration with the RIH 3D Printing Lab and the Brown Design Workshop. Our PPE initiative has focused on N95 respirators. The team has made a 3D printable mold of an existing design, which once printed, can be used to make a mask every 10 minutes. Our mask has passed fit testing and has gotten the go-ahead from our local hospital administration and will be ramping up once models are finalized. Next steps involve mold printing and manufacturing, and we plan to tap into the volunteer base at the medical school community to help with this.

Face Shields: A secondary aim involves working with local manufacturers to develop low-cost, rapidly deployable face shields for use in hospital, nursing home and community health settings. We are currently exploring 3D options versus standard manufacturing routes. 

Cloth Masks: Students have helped connect community sewing groups with health care organizations to make cloth masks. First, students worked with physicians to complete a literature review of various cloth mask designs and efficacy. Concurrently, students directed interested sewing volunteers through a COVID hotline to the hospital’s official cloth mask making initiatives so that health care professionals could extend the life of their N95 masks. Students organized cloth mask drives for the Pawtucket YMCA to distribute cloth masks to older adults after the CDC recommended that every adult wear a cloth mask when outside. Cloth masks are first sanitized before donating them to the YMCA. Students created an instruction page along with each mask detailing proper usage, safety and hygiene; these instructions are available in English and Spanish. 

Participants: Open to M1s through M4s
Partners: RIH 3D Printing Lab, the Brown Design Workshop, Lifespan physicians, Community Sewing Groups 


Vivian Chan Li, Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University (vivian_li@brown.edu)