PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] — Normally, the Brown Design Workshop, the University’s makerspace, is buzzing this time of year with students finishing up final projects. That’s not happening this year with the facility closed as part of the University’s response to COVID-19. But that doesn’t mean the place has gone silent.
For the past few weeks, Chris Bull, the workshop’s director, and students working remotely have been using the facility’s 3D printers and other equipment to make much-needed personal protective equipment for local health care organizations. The Brown Design Workshop is part of a network of 3D printers around campus, including in Brown’s Multimedia Labs, that’s helping to respond to the COVID crisis.
Bull says that a facility like the workshop is a unique position to contribute in this current situation. It isn’t set up for mass production, but what it can do is produce small runs of items that are tailored to specific circumstances. So Bull has been working with people at local hospitals to find out exactly what they need and how students and faculty can help.
“It’s interesting the way these solutions develop,” Bull said. “The problems we’re hearing about are specific to Rhode Island or in some cases to a specific hospital. It’s like, tell us what you have on hand and we’ll see if we can make something that helps you to get the most out of it.”