These days, the health emergency due to COVID-19 is frightening Europe. Many heroes, such as the healthcare workers, conveyors, and law enforcers are working really hard for all of us. In this crazy situation, which took us out of our comfort zone, forcing us at home, far from each other, what can we, “humble mortals”, do? In late March, the opportunity to do something showed up. From an initiative of the University of Messina, a team of experts was set up to take up the challenge of providing more PPEs to the healthcare system. Knowing that 3D printing technology can be used to create components for some emergency devices, more than 600 among citizens, researchers, startups and companies working in the field of 3D printing, gathered together to create a network supporting the prototyping of useful components for the emergency. Thanks to the idea and to the work of some innovation leaders Air Factories was founded.

What it does

The platform is a “distributed 3D printing facility” that geolocates printers, materials, and skills provided voluntarily by makers and companies all across Italy. Hospitals and other emergency facilities can issue a call requesting a specific component or emergency system. Air Factories is powerfully helping to face the PPEs shortfalls in hospitals, overcoming the problem of supply times through the relentless work of its makers.

How I built it

Air Factories is developed with cutting-edge technologies such as django, MySQL, Javascript, Vmware, and is kept safe by CloudFare. On the mobile side, we’ve developed native apps for iOS and Android.

Challenges I ran into

the biggest challenge was to gather as many makers, companies and professionals as possible within the AirFactories family. It was crucial to gain their trust to fight COVID-19 together.

Accomplishments that I'm proud of

At the present moment, 30 Air Calls have been completed, around 3148 PPEs have been printed by more than 600 makers, and 84 masks have been donated by individuals. We are proud that Air Factories is led by a multidisciplinary team which includes the Engineering Department of the University of Messina, the business incubator Innesta, the academic spin-off company and the innovative startup Neural. With the help of this team and of a thriving community expanding across Italy and beyond, Air Factories is already helping Europe today and will continue to help tomorrow, one device at a time.

What I learned

We learned that together we win, ALWAYS! That research is the basis for intelligent development, which is necessary to face the challenges of today and tomorrow. We knew MyFaceMaskApp Team and we'll be proud to collaborate with them in the next future.

What's next for AirFactories

Once the healthcare emergency will be ended, the next step will be facing the economic crisis. Starting over stronger than before, for italian and european companies, will be fundamental to regain the lost ground on the markets. Air Factories aims to be the linker between offer and demand in the context of industrial development, research and open innovation. It aims to connect universities, spinoffs, startups and incubators with SMEs and large local actors.

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