At the abbey of Port-Royal, in the woody smell of the chapter house, the three-hundred-year-old portrait of mother Angélique Arnaud presides over an assembly of electric cubes. Between the paneling and the columns of oaks, dozens of 3D printers took place. We find the same number in the opposite room. Sixty in total, who purr while streaming plastic filaments to urgently manufacture the thousands of pieces of medical equipment that Parisian hospitals badly need.
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It only took five days for the idea to materialize. " It is the University of Paris which is behind this project in partnership with the AP-HP, and with the support of the Kering group ", says Gérard Friedlander, dean of the university's faculty of medicine Paris-Descartes. The mouths remain closed on the amount of the sum advanced by the luxury giant, but the advanced fee would amount to several hundred thousand euros.
Enough to allow the installation of this extraordinary device, and its funding for the next four months, including logistics and engineers. The latter, five in number, were seconded to this project by the French start-up Bone 3D, specializing in the printing of parts of medical equipment. These elements which are sorely lacking as the influx of patients to hospitals continues.
" This is one of the projects that will make it possible to overcome the crisis, " explains Dr. Roman Hossein Khonsari, presenting the machines. These printers indeed offer the possibility of producing, quickly and in large quantities, plastic material for caregivers and the treatment of patients: protective visors for the face, valves for emergency artificial respirator, intubation material, masks , handles, and more.
" The only things that these machines cannot print are masks and overcoats, " boasts Dean Friedlander without much exaggeration, " but companies all over France are converting their production lines to meet these needs " .
A piece being printed at the Cochin hospital, in Paris, on April 3, 2020. Sébastien Soriano, Le Figaro
This is the big difference with a 3D printer. While it takes several days to modify a production line, a 3D printer makes it possible to create different parts on the same day, and to go from drawing a virtual model to large-scale creation of prototypes in just a few hours . The engineers of Bones 3D and the AP-HP teams will work around the clock to create drawings and patterns of parts, and put them into production.
" We are in contact with the Agency for Equipment of Health Products, which provides us with lists of dozens of parts required, it would be impossible to provide without these printers, " says Roman Hossein Khonsari. “ It is quite simply the most important 3D printing platform for medical equipment in Europe. "
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Placed on a table in the middle of the machines, a computer screen displays in relief the model of a valve being printed. Next to it, open, is a black pen sketch of the same room. An illustration of the responsiveness of this system, which is reinvented as orders arrive, and should soon be able to put itself at the service of hospital services in other regions of France. " We have chosen to install this set in Cochin hospital, as close as possible to the sick, but it is not only for Paris, " says Dean Friedlander. “ We will mobilize it for the other regions as the wave advances. "