We cannot escape the bitter reality, and frankly, it is now nearly impossible to focus or even think about anything else. There is a war in Europe, a few hundred miles from our factory. Not a “special operation”, but a full-scale, unjust war started by Russia against its neighbor, with intentional targeting of the civilian population.
Many Ukrainian people live and work here in Prague (including several colleagues right in our company), each and every Czech citizen probably has at least one friend from Ukraine, and I am no exception. We really don’t think twice about helping – this is close and personal. Besides other things, we have some company premises that are normally used for recreational and teambuilding purposes, these are now dedicated solely to refugees. So far we have accommodated approximately 60 people. Apart from the housing, we help with all the necessary paperwork, finding jobs, applying for schools, and pastime activities for children, in short, living a life as normal as possible in the current circumstances.
Of course, from day one I’ve been also thinking about what we can do specifically as members of a 3D printing community. We have gathered some ideas, which you can find below. However, before we continue, one important thing must be said. These suggestions are intended mainly for people who are already in Ukraine or have a reliable way of delivering the printed equipment to the proper hands – which is definitely not trivial now. We are not able to organize any collections ourselves.
To be honest, for the vast majority of us, the most feasible way of helping Ukraine now is simply donating money. There are many non-profit organizations, if you are not sure which one to choose, your best bet is to contact the Ukrainian Embassy in your country (or check their website). Either they will have their own dedicated account or will redirect you as needed. Thank you for understanding!
So, without further ado, let’s see what we have come up with so far.
Similar to the face shields, we want to focus rather on simple, straightforward prints that are inexpensive and easy enough to be produced in larger quantities, and therefore have an actual practical impact.
The first design we would like to present is called a tourniquet, it helps to quickly constrict blood flow in limbs and stop bleeding caused mainly by bullet wounds. Make sure you check out both the article and the GitHub instructions linked in the model description. While it is not certified yet, it has been widely used in field conditions in the Gaza Strip since 2018. Note that parts of this tool (both the buckles and the “corkscrew” handle) must withstand substantial mechanical stress. PLA is really too brittle for that and the splinters can be outright dangerous. In this case, functional materials are a must, with no exceptions. Something like nylon or PC Blend would be ideal, realistically, at least PETG will have to do.
While there are other tourniquet designs in development (and reportedly even in practical use in Ukraine), until we get more feedback, we will keep recommending something that is tried and proven, respecting the opinion of the author himself.
Another design that has already seen widespread use is this humeral brace (splint) developed by Make 3D Company Ltd. led by Silvestr Tkáč, a Czech entrepreneur operating in The Gambia. In this country, the humeral brace became the first 3D printed piece of equipment with a medical certification.
As with most other prosthetics, it is very important that the brace is easily adapted to individual size and shape. In this case, it is printed flat and then bent into a correct shape using a heat gun, a hairdryer, or simply just hot water. Unlike with the tourniquets, PLA is acceptable material here, among other reasons, there is a wider temperature range where the material is already malleable enough, but still not too hot to hurt the patient.
Inspired by this design, we have prepared a whole set of similar makeshift braces for various bones and joints. Currently, there are 7 of them and we keep developing more.
Again, please make sure you read the instructions in the description of each model. They are available also in Ukrainian and Russian language.
Of course, we are well aware that any uncertified or even untested medical equipment could be hazardous and do more harm than good. As we have already learned during the Covid-19 crisis, prior to promoting any design, we run it by experienced medical professionals first. We strongly recommend you do the same before publishing any medical print on PrusaPrinters. Throughout the whole development process, which lasted about 3 weeks, we consulted our designs with Doc. MUDr. Milan Krticka, Ph.D. and MUDr. Martin Chovanec of the trauma surgery clinic in Brno, Czech Republic.
Please keep in mind that all the designs mentioned above were made with the best intentions and according to the feedback we have currently available – everything can (and probably will) change and be updated or improved over time!
As you can see above, we decided to focus mainly on medical and humanitarian use and not to publish and popularize any 3D prints with a direct military purpose, given the huge risk of abuse or fueling further misinterpretation by the tabloid media.
Of course, there are many printable designs usable to some extent both for peaceful and not-so-peaceful purposes, like flying drone parts. As for the less obvious examples, we have picked this periscope by SYGNIS SA which can at least partially increase the safety of civilians in the warzone (i.e., looking behind the corner or out of the window before you go). Apart from the 3D printed parts, you only need a pipe and a couple of mirrors and rubber bands.
Also, there are these knee guards for protection when quickly kneeling, taking cover, or simply stumbling in the rubble.
Supporting makers in Ukraine
The 3D printing community in Ukraine, even if not located directly in the warzone, struggles with power shortages and a lack of both filament material and reliable printer machines. Prior to the war, we sent a total of about 100 Original Prusa printers to Ukraine. However, only a fraction of them is now available where they are most needed.
We already cooperate with multiple companies and volunteer groups and try to donate as much hardware and material as possible, but as already mentioned above, means of reliable transport to Ukraine are now extremely limited. So far we managed to get through another 15 printers and about 300 kilograms of filament. For obvious reasons, the identity and location of the recipients, and the exact purpose of their printers, now remain confidential.
However, if you are currently in Ukraine and want to coordinate further possible help, please do not hesitate to contact us!
By the way, the Original Prusa i3 MK3S+ handbook is now translated into the Ukrainian language as well.
The president is here!
Last but not least, to brighten the mood a bit, we prepared a bust of the badass Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, complete with his famous quote “prezident tut” (the president is here) on the pedestal.
Even though he had a quick and easy option of a foreign exile, Volodymyr Zelenskyy decided to stand his ground and lead the country right from the capital city of Kyiv. I think he gives such a big morale boost not only to people in Ukraine but also to us worldwide.
That’s all for now, but we will definitely post another follow-up as soon as we have any further important information to share. More than ever before, we would like to ask for your ideas and suggestions, especially with a focus on any medical and humanitarian applications. Together we can save lives.