Armie – Built to fight COVID-19

A rendering of the Armie hands-free device, created in Autodesk Fusion 360.

At PrintCity we wanted to help support the fight against COVID-19 in the most effective way possible. Over the last couple of weeks, we have witnessed some fantastic examples of innovation and rapid prototyping.  Many manufacturers have focused upon producing Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) such as face shields, something which we are also currently facilitating. However, we also wanted to identify other simple ways in which makers can help to prevent the spread of the Coronavirus. 

Production of PPE by MMU PrintCity. At full capacity, the facility is estimated to produce 1000 3D printed components per week.

We started by analysing what other designers and manufactures had produced in response to COVID-19.  A hands-free handle design created by Materialise identified the opportunity to reduce the spread of the virus.  Something which can be applied anywhere from the NHS to offices of essential workers. Using the available 3D designs as a starting point,  we set out to create a hands-free handle design which can be attached to any handle whether it’s on a drawer or door. Through Autodesk Fusion 360 and 3D printing,  we were able to quickly go through a series of 10 prototypes until we arrived on our current design. The design is currently being tested in multiple locations with positive feedback received from some amazing key workers. Although our design fits onto a wide variety of handles,  there are some profiles which are proving to be slightly more challenging. We are continuing to develop the design further and hope that designers, manufacturers and the 3D print community will provide feedback to make the design even better, hence why the 3D CAD files are available on our website and Thingiverse.

A picture showing 5 of the different Armie iterations created using 3D printing.

The Coronavirus is said to live on hard surfaces for 72 hours, meaning that many handles could already have the virus on them. A hands-free device promotes the user to use their arm to open the door or drawer instead of their hand. Although the virus will be transferred to the arm, there’s less potential that it will come in contact with the user’s nose or mouth. However, individuals should still continue to wash their hands as regularly as possible. 

Initial concepts were tested within multiple locations across Manchester. This picture was taken at Little Explorers Nursery Swinton.

Instead of adopting nuts and bolts, the design utilises cable ties to secure it to the handle. This means there’s less contact with the 3D printed part when installing it and allows it to be attached to a wide range of handle profiles. Additionally, the design is suitable for most 3D printing processes and will fit on a wide range of printer build plates. If you would like an Armie printing for your location please get in contact with PrintCity. We hope that individuals with 3D printers who are unable to make visors will be able to join the effort to beat Coronavirus using this design, together we can have an impact. 

3D Files and installation instructions can be downloaded using the following link:

Please contact MMU PrintCity using the following email address:

Armie - Built to fight COVID-19 - The PrintCity Blog - Manchester Metropolitan University

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