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At first glance, Haiti might seem an odd destination for a 3D printer.

3D printers are cutting edge. They’re in the news. They’re printing amazing things, from custom prosthetics, to fully functional engines, to buildings. They print forms that would be impossible to manufacturable otherwise. And they’re a fairly accessible toy for the DIYer to use at home.

Haiti is a beautiful country fighting to improve itself and its global standing. The forces it fights against are powerful, varied, and very deep-rooted in its history. It lacks infrastructure that many countries take for granted: clean running water, electricity, sewage treatment, waste disposal, shipping, and others.

Our organization, iLab // Haiti has brought the first two 3D printers to the country of Haiti. We have partnered with KIDmob to teach critical thinking, creative problem solving, adaptability, and communication along with the technical skills of rapid prototyping.

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We are using two of MakerBot’s dual extrusion Replicator 1′s, and we will add two more at the end of this month. We’re teaching them to 3D model using SketchUp and Rhino, with the hope of teaching Autodesk’s Inventor.

Our goal is to empower local Haitians to think differently about their surroundings and potential.

Some of their first projects are simple medical devices, such as umbilical cord clamps, which they are currently prototyping (on their fourth iteration). These medical devices would be 3D printed for direct use in local clinics with on-demand manufacturing. Hyper-local manufacturing will bypass inefficient and corrupt import systems that are currently the only option available.

With rapid prototyping tools and internet capabilities, complex 3D models can be exchanged between Haiti and other countries for production, distribution, and direct connection to the global market.

3D printers in Haiti! What will they think of next? 3D printing in space?!

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iLab // Haiti is supported 100% through grassroots efforts and in-kind donations. If you are interested in supporting our cause, click here and select KIDmob from the list. We’d really appreciate it! Please contact Ashley Dara for more info.

Ashley Dara

Ashley Dara

Ashley Dara holds a BS in Industrial Design with a minor in International Business from Metropolitan State College of Denver. She combines her experience in design strategy and ethnography to empower others through technology. She is currently working as Human Factors Lead for Made in Space, which will put the first 3D printer on the international space station in 2014.


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Comments

  1. Rahere says:

    And how do you plan on stopping the corrupt and inefficient import procedures interfering with the supply of ABs or whatever plastic you’re printing with? It might be a good move to find a low-tech way to convert drinks bottles.

    1. Laura Cochrane says:

      Filabot can take recycled plastic pellets and turn them into filament. http://www.filabot.com/

      1. Dara says:

        Yes, Laura! We are actually in contact with them!!! Any leads you can recommend? :)

        1. bob says:

          Filabot went out of business, they never responded to my emails. Insufficient money raised.

    2. Dara says:

      Yes, indeed. Currently we have volunteers bring down a spool each time we run low. While there are not as many volunteers coming down as there used to be, we can still bring enough for for the launch or our project. We don’t ship them. People bring it in for us in their carry on luggage.

      In regards to the bottles, that is exactly what we are hoping to do. We are going to be looking at the materials more closely next week!

      1. Jon says:

        I wonder if Haiti could use a computer guy (teaching/infrastructure)? After short work in Central America, I want to do some more work in developed countries…

  2. ameyring says:

    Very nice! I hope the all the gear will be safe from confiscation by corrupt officials and from robbery.

    1. Dara says:

      Yes, thanks AMEYRING. So far they haven’t caught on, fingers crossed.

  3. Jessica says:

    I think this is a great initiative! The use of 3D printing for medical purposes alone is life changing, especially for an impoverished country like Haiti who is in need of basic medical supplies. The possibilities of 3D printing is endless! Also, I don’t know if the last part was a joke, but NASA actually announced in September that they are working towards sending the first 3D printer into space: http://www.cbc.ca/news/technology/nasa-to-launch-3d-printer-into-space-1.1873030

    1. Dara says:

      Thanks Jessica!

      Actually, it was kind of a joke. When I am not in Haiti I am in the Bay Area working for Made in Space. People are always surprised when I say “You’d be surprised at how much Haiti and space have in common!”

  4. Are you working with Dr. Farmer? I read the article hoping I’d see his name. Of course if you are working in Haiti you know of him.

  5. charlie says:

    3d printing in space you say…

    http://www.madeinspace.us/

    The company I plan on working for when i graduate with my engineering degree :)

  6. bob says:

    having seen the corporate greed in tool and die, I have left that industry. Glad to see technology being used by the people-for the people.

  7. Man this makes me love humanity! Wonderful stuff iLab!

  8. zheng3 says:

    This is really wonderful work iLab is doing. I also can’t help but think that the world needs a Mr. Alligator umbilical cord clamp remix.

    http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:13612

  9. Naomi says:

    I travel with a medical team to Haiti twice a year to Cap Haitian. I get so excited every time I see people doing wonderful things for this incredible group of people. Thank you!

  10. Umbilical cords should not be clamped right away. The blood in the cord pumps into the baby’s body over the few minutes after birth. Docs in America foolishly clamp the cord immediately, which starves the baby of red blood cells and iron. They do this for no other reason than “that’s what we’ve always done”. The cord delivers up to 1/3 of the blood that the baby is supposed to have, and premature clamping of the cord is seriously wrong. Let’s hope that these 3D printers don’t bring with them incorrect delivery techniques…

    http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/263181.php

  11. website says:

    With blogs like this around I don’t even need website anymore.
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  12. Josh Scott-Jouir says:

    Can we please have a photo of the clamps as they were developed? I would love to show this design evolution to my Design & Tech students. What are the key design features of an umbilical clamp?