3D printing is great for homes because it can let you print just about any plastic object you crave. But in Haiti, which is still recovering from a devastating earthquake, the technology has a more urgent application: 3D-printing medical supplies on demand. Vital community resources in Haiti are still very often in low quantities or missing altogether, but the new iLab Haiti project aims to use 3D-printing to solve some of the country’s immediate medical needs.

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Started as a collaborative effort between iLab Haiti and KIDMob, a Bay Area nonprofit design education firm, the 3D-printing relief project is currently operating out of Haiti Communitere in Port-au-Prince. So far the team has already produced its first simple, single-use objects such as umbilical cord clamps.

According to a NPR interview with iLab Haiti’s Ashley Dara, before the 3D printer, doctors delivering babies would have to improvise proper medical tools by tying umbilical cords with their rubber gloves. Doing so meant doctors would have to deliver babies barehanded from women that are HIV positive.

Currently the project in its fourth iteration has brought two MakerBots to Haiti, the first ever in the country. As part of the overall goal, locals will learn how to model 3D objects and repair the machines. In the future iLab Haiti plans to explore partnerships with startups such as Filabot – the machine that recycles everyday plastics into 3D printer filament and set up shop in other countries that could benefit from 3D-printed medical supplies.

+ iLab Haiti

via Springwise

Images © iLab Haiti