Makers Oman – the Sultanate’s newest hub for Omani-driven science and technology innovations – has commenced production of a range of locally engineered items designed to strengthen the capabilities of Oman’s frontline healthcare workers in dealing with the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
According to a representative of the Rusayl-based lab, mass production has begun of two key products: a face shield and a uniquely designed hands-free door opening. A range of other products are currently in various stages of prototyping and testing before they receive the all-important green-light for large-scale production.
“We have started mass production of face-shields for use by healthcare workers in the Sultanate,” said Issam al Toki, Education Coordinator at Makers Oman. “These are being done here at our facilities at Innovation Park Muscat (IPM), as well as in collaboration with our partners in Suhar.”
Speaking to the Observer, Al Toki said the face shields designed and produced by Makers Oman are cost-competitive alternatives to 3D-printed versions introduced in recent weeks by tech start-ups here in Oman and elsewhere around the world.
“At Makers Oman, we have successfully employed laser-cutting technology in the production of our face shields, which takes about 12 minutes to produce one unit – as opposed to about two hours per unit with 3D printin
g. Thus, in addition to the speed of production, laser-cutting involves the use of cheaper raw materials – which is a big advantage over 3D printed face shields. We have already received a lot of orders from the health authorities for our product.”
Also in production is a ‘hands-free door-opener’ – a device that can be used, in addition to the opening of doors, in the operation of elevators, the handling of shopping trolleys, and so on. “With the aid of this device, the user avoids contact with surfaces (potentially contaminated with the virus). There is strong interest for this produ
ct not only from organisations, but individuals as well,” said Al Toki.
Makers Oman is at the forefront of Oman’s efforts to innovate personal protective equipment (PPE) and other devices to help offset supply shortfalls in the country amid a surge in global demand for these goods. The outfit – spo
nsored by the Public Authority for Privatisation and Partnership (PAPP) – is described as a full-fledged manufacturing workshop featuring a dedicated metal workshop, woodworking area, Rapid Prototyping Area, 3D printing workshop, laser-cutting area, textile workshop, and design lab.
A raft of other COVID-19 related products are also currently under development at Makers Oman. The list includes a ‘Ventilator Splitter’ – a device that helps connect one ventilator with multiple patients; a portable ventilator for use in hospitals and home settings; an indigenously designed bed for Intensive Care Units (ICU), and assorted medical aids for COVID-19 care.
Notable is a ‘Respiratory Helmet’, which is currently under design, according to Issam. “This is an advanced version of a face mask. It has a filter unit strapped to the healthcare worker’s back, offering 99 per cent protection from viruses in the air. It also comes with a hood, which is presently being prototyped at Makers Oman. In Phase 1 of the project, we will just focus on the hood, with a view to ensuring that every healthcare staff has one hood per person rather than having to share it with colleagues because of a paucity of these devices.”