University researchers create 3D printed door opener to help fight the spread of COVID-19

A much-needed creative response to the coronavirus crisis

Researchers from the University of Sunderland have developed a hands-free door opener to help prevent the spread of coronavirus.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, touching a surface or object with the virus and then touching one’s face “is thought to be the main way the virus spreads”. If COVID-19 is anything like the SARS-CoV-2 disease, it may be able to survive up to 24 hours – and up to 2-3 days on plastic and stainless-steel surfaces.

With the help of a 3D printer, experts from the university’s Institute for Automotive and Manufacturing Advanced Practice (AMAP) designed and manufactured the product in less than a day.

The AMAP is now offering to share the product design with others who feel it could assist in the current crisis.

In related news: SWGfL provides advice on remote learning ahead of UK school closures

“We developed this device, which attaches to door handles and allows you to open the door without the handle touching your hand. The forearm is used instead,” said Roger O’Brien, head of AMAP.

“With the use of 3D printers here at the university, we were able to quickly manufacture the product and we feel it could in some way assist in the current climate.

“We are happy to share the designs and are not in this for any commercial gain but rather to support the ongoing efforts.

“A part was printed in 2hrs 30mins on our most basic 3D printer, one of our Ultimakers, using a tough PLA filament. This particular design fits a 20mm diameter door handle.

“If designers wish to manufacture their own, that’s fine, or we are willing to print more of different sizes for material cost only.”

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