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DIY Community Opening Doors Hands-Free Amid COVID

Jersey City Rapid Maker Response Group (JCRMRG) JCRMRG Hackathon Ready Set_740-400.png
A group of Makers in Jersey City created a prize-winning, 3D printed watch accessory to open doors in a COVID-19 hands-free manner.

The COVID-19 pandemic has ravaged the world. One bright spot in this crisis has been the response of the do-it-yourself (DIY) tech community as exemplified by the Jersey City Rapid Maker Response Group (JCRMRG).

In April 2020, the group’s future founder Justin Handsman placed a simple post on Reddit calling for volunteers to help him make 3D-printed face shields. The rest, as they say, is history.

On June 22, JCRMRG – in partnership with United Way of Hudson County - announced a community-focused health hackathon to create much needed Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). Roughly one month later, 30+ teams from across the US and around the world came together to participated in a virtual Make-like event to tackle manufacturing, sustainability, and supply chain challenges related to healthcare and PPEs. The health hackathon incorporated leaders in the tech, manufacturing, and 3D-printing communities.

The results were impressive. According to the website, one hundred hackers from around the world participated, along with students from local universities like NJIT, Rutgers, and Stevens.  Hackers came up with solutions to keep people COVID free and help citizens and businesses adapt to a COVID world.  The competition focused on key challenges around sustainability and manufacturing.  Many of the teams implemented solutions that utilized 3D printing and additive manufacturing processes.

Hackers were supported by a 21-person multi-disciplinary team, and the event was sponsored by Dassault Systèmes, PSE&G, 3D, Asimov Ventures, PrusaPrinters, Devpost, Women in 3D Printing, TechUnited, Stevens Venture Center, DesignPoint, Indiegrove, PicoSolutions, and the Jersey City Tech Meetup. 

The winning hack submissions were announced on July 16th. The top three winning teams received recognition as well as cash prizes. In first place was a team known as the Slice Girls – as in a 3D printer slicer: Natasha Dzurny, Casey Walker, and Elizabeth Spenser. Here’s their submission video, “Ready Set Wearables:”

The team’s fashion meets function wearables can attach to any watch enabling the user to leave their dwelling without carrying your purse or wallet. These bulky items would serve as yet other objects that might be contaminated by COVID-19. The first component of the design features a collapsable door pull that attaches to the carrier’s watch, eliminating the wearers need to touch potentially dirty door handles.  The second watch friendly accessory features a small hand sanitizer dispenser that can clip on to the wearer’s watch.  Last, the team came up with a small container that can hold small amounts of medication while the wearer is on the go.

Due to proprietary issues associated with the sponsorships of the hackathon, the CAD files are not available for the winning designs. However, team members did provide a related CAD file link on the MakerBot Thingiverse website: “Handsfree Universal Door Handle Attachments,” by Armdle at Blizzard Robotics.

Now that the hackathon is over, the JCRMRG plans to support the teams and the maker community by connecting both with additional resources and mentors. They also plan to develop new initiatives to use 3D printing and injection molding to make refinements to face shields and other needed PPEs.

Jersey City Rapid Maker Response Group (JCRMRG) YoutubeCAD-Collapsable-Door-Pull_700W_crop.png

CAD drawing for collapsible door pull. (Image Source: Jersey City Rapid Maker Response Group (JCRMRG) Youtube)

John Blyler is a Design News senior editor, covering the electronics and advanced manufacturing spaces. With a BS in Engineering Physics and an MS in Electrical Engineering, he has years of hardware-software-network systems experience as an editor and engineer within the advanced manufacturing, IoT and semiconductor industries. John has co-authored books related to system engineering and electronics for IEEE, Wiley, and Elsevier.

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