At the height of the Covid crisis in Italy, an engineering startup saved many lives by 3D-printing respirator valves. The situation never got so dire in this coastal belt of Karnataka but still, the students and faculty of engineering colleges here have fought Covid with their ingenuity over the past four months. From simple face shields to ventilator splitters and contactless thermometers, they have been making and distributing much-needed equipment at a low cost.
NIT-K, Surathkal deployed its 3D printers to fight the coronavirus. “We turned to 3D printing,” says Gangadharan K V, coordinator at the institute’s Centre for System Design. “We have already made 5,000 face shields and are making another 10,000.” While ONGC sponsored 10,000 face shields, NIT-K has made intubation tubes and 3D face masks on its own. A campus startup called Aakruthi3D Private Limited that makes foundry parts is now supplying face shields, respirator masks, ventilator manifolds and no-touch sanitary tools to hospitals and the government.

Other departments at NIT-K have been making hand sanitiser and bio-safety masks. Arun M Isloor, professor and head of NIT’s chemistry department, and research scholar Syed Ibrahim have made a disinfection chamber named Zero-Cov to destroy bacteria and viruses on surfaces.
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At the Mangalore Institute of Technology and Engineering in Moodbidri, students have made a low-cost automatic sanitiser dispenser and a website that provides information about the coronavirus. Sriram S, a student of mechatronics engineering who designed the dispenser, says it is portable and costs less than Rs 1,000 to make. The 3D printing centre at MAHE, which makes prostheses for children, has also designed low-cost ventilator splitters and a face shield.

3D-printed ventilator splitter from NIT-K, Surathkal.
While most institutes have developed medical and hygiene equipment, NMAMIT, Nitte has made a contactless ‘theertha’ (holy water) dispenser for temples. It has been installed in the campus temple, says Santhosh, assistant professor in the department of information science and engineering who designed the device. It dispenses theertha on detecting a hand near its vent. Santhosh says it is easy to install, refill and maintain, and consumes little electricity.
The department also has a device called ‘Autoflush’ for public toilets. It activates when a hand is brought close to its infrared sensor and triggers a solenoid valve to release water. For thermal screening of employees, the department has made a free-standing device called ‘Celsius’ that senses the presence of a forehead and reads out the temperature without needing an operator.
(This story is part of a series in association with Facebook. Facebook has no editorial role in this story.)


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