The Barnes Groups Advisors (TBGA), headquartered in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA, has signed an agreement with the US Department of Veterans Affairs, Veterans Health Administration Innovation Ecosystem (VHAIE) to provide a framework for collaboration intended to facilitate regulatory and basic science innovation using Additive Manufacturing technologies to respond to coronavirus (COVID-19).
This Corporate Research & Development Agreement (CRADA) is intended to enable both parties to jointly develop technologies to respond to COVID-19 to ensure VA medical professionals have access to solutions to support care for veterans. The agreement evolved from a partnership between TBGA and medical industry veteran, Andy Christensen, to solve the current personal protective equipment (PPE) shortage facing COVID-19 frontline healthcare workers.
The TBGA team is reportedly following a requirements-based approach to design protective face masks, with preliminary validation of two designs with significant potential. Christensen reportedl helped open collaboration and the distribution of the designs to Dr Beth Ripley, Director of the VH 3D Printing Network within the VA Health Care Systems.
Christensen commented, “This is a significant partnership focused on tackling a realtime problem. The seasoned engineers at the Barnes Group Advisors bring creative solutions and rapid design iterations based on the feedback from the frontline VA team. Our frontline healthcare workers not only need quick solutions, but professional ones that are based on real performance requirements to ensure they are adequately protected.”
As part of the CRADA, the TBGA team will:
- Provide dedicated resources to design additively manufacturable objects for COVID-19 response
- Actively participate in the engineering, design, and prototyping of additive manufacturable objects
- Explore avenues to additively manufacture additional items
The VHA Innovation Ecosystem will reportedly:
- Provide dedicated resources to design additively manufacturable objects for COVID-19 response, for example, engineers for design, run testing, and to communicate with FDA regarding ultimate clearance of the design
- Offer training and tutorials for healthcare providers to utilise additively manufactured solutions as needed
- Share lessons learned from AM files, including information on prior success and failures
- Provide consultation on models, testing, and practices developed
“This is an opportunity to collaborate and use our skills to make a difference, which is exactly why most of us became engineers in the first place,” stated Barnes.