Years ago, one of our team members worked in food delivery. It was never an easy job but nowadays it's a dangerous one too.
Since each door they open, every elevator button they press represents another potential exposure to COVID19 infection, delivery workers are forced to relentlessly sanitize their hands over and over again or risk becoming vectors of infection themselves. It's a heavy burden to bear, especially when each worker can deliver up to 30 times a day.
What it does
CleanContact is a handy finger glove (for the cynical, a finger condom), that self-disinfects when stored in its case. A delivery person can instantly slip it on, press a button, open a door, or lift a bag, then slip it back into its case. Once stored, a hydrogen-peroxide solution instantly sanitizes the surface of the glove, making it ready for its next use.
Unlike standard hygienic gloves that are not reusable, the elastic element in CleanContact is made of silicone and can be used repeatedly. It is a much more user-friendly, inexpensive and time-efficient solution than repeatedly disinfecting hands or putting on a fresh set of gloves for each contact with an exposed surface.
While there have been other attempts to create tools to avoid contact with surfaces in public spaces, they have fairly limited dexterity, making them unsuited to professional applications.
Potential Strengths: -Safety: Protective equipment is only as effective when used as intended. An intuitive solution like CleanContact could encourage adoption among personnel who may lack awareness of pathogen transmission issues (for example that gloves can actually promote virus transmission if not changed after every contact) -Compact form factor: Ideal for bicycle couriers where weight/size is an issue -Price: Although intended to be a semi-durable good, the simple design of CleanContact allows it to be manufactured inexpensively -Waste Reduction: We may be in an epidemic but environmental issues didn’t magically disappear. CleanContact could prevent waste from countless single use gloves.
How we built it
The device is built around the assumption that a single covering over the finger can be worn and disinfected instead of using a full glove. The design includes a holder, finger glove, and connection to the finger. The main case was designed in AutoDesk Fusion 360 software and prototyped on an Ultimaker 2 3D printer. For a scalable solution, a finger covering material such as a DuPont medical grade silicone would be ideal, but will necessitate a small manufacturing scaling design. The material for the case would ideally be made of a 3D printed PLA that resists viruses such as Covid-19, and we would produce with Copper3D PLACTIVE AN1. The inclusion of copper in the PLA matrix will help to kill the virus alongside the disinfectant.
Given the quarantine conditions in Switzerland, obtaining Copper3D PLACTIVE AN1 printer filament was not feasible in a short timeframe, but can be obtained in the future for building the final designs. The print time of the part can also be optimized for local makers to print for a scalable solution in Switzerland and other countries that are facing shortages of protective equipment.
Challenges we ran into
-Latex and nitrile gloves degrade when exposed to common disinfectants so we had to find a disinfectant/material combination that was safe and durable. Silicone and hydrogen peroxide seem to provide those qualities in this application, although this hypothesis still needs to be verified.
-We also had to find a case material that would not harbor pathogens otherwise it too could be a potential transmission vector. We are looking at PLA with copper nanoparticles which provide for a much more hygienic surface. Additionally, copper has been shown in research to have the shortest surface life for a virus such as Covid-19. Currently we are looking at Copper3D PLA, available from 3D-PrinterStore (https://www.3d-printerstore.ch/) in Switzerland to enable local production.
Accomplishments that we’re proud of
Delivery workers are an essential part of the quarantine ecosystem, even if they don’t get the attention they deserve. Besides low wages and their constant exposure to potential patients, there have been many reports of employers not providing them with adequate protection equipment. An affordable solution such as CleanContact could make their jobs easier and, hopefully, safer.
As such it is a small but tangible contribution to hacking our way out of these difficult times.
What we learned
Collaborating virtually on a physical prototype is interesting.
What's next for CleanContact
Share: At the conclusion of the hackathon, our prototype blueprint will be published under the creative commons license so that it can be copied and, hopefully, improved upon by the hacker community. Test: We are currently in talks with delivery services in Geneva to test prototypes in real-life conditions. Promote: Ideas are useless without exposure leading to implementation and adoption. We will be promoting the CleanContact concept through a multi-platform social media campaign as well as through targeted communications.
Try It out