In battle to contain coronavirus, hands-free door openers are being 3D-printed

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As the world battles the coronavirus pandemic, hands-free door openers are being 3D-printed to reduce the risk of people spreading the virus.

The door openers let people open doors with their arms, as opposed to grabbing the handle with their hands.

In Finland, for example, clean energy company Fortum has produced a hands-free door handle out of recycled plastic. The handle, the Fortum Vipu, is being trialed by Finnish retailer S-group.

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“To help fight COVID-19, our interactions with the built environment need to be hands-free. By innovating our surroundings, we can prevent the spread of the virus and give people a chance to do their daily chores more safely,” Fortum brand manager Jussi Mälkiä said in a press release. “We are now testing the 3D-printed handles in a real environment for a few weeks. If everything goes as planned, we are ready to expand our production.”

The 3D-printed hands-free door opener designed by Belgian company Materialise.

The 3D-printed hands-free door opener designed by Belgian company Materialise. (Materialise)

A pilot project involving the hands-free door handles began in the Finnish capital Helsinki on April 20. Video from Reuters showed the handles in use in a supermarket, where they elicited a positive response from shoppers.

In another project, Belgian 3D-printing specialist Materialise has also designed a door opener. It has made the 3D-printable design available for free download in an effort to expand its use around the world during the pandemic.

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Materialise has made its hands-free door opener design freely available for download.

Materialise has made its hands-free door opener design freely available for download. (Materialise)

“By making the design available digitally, it can be produced on 3D printers everywhere and become available around the world in a matter of hours,” explained Materialise CEO Fried Vancraen in a statement. “In this case, we designed the product in Belgium and people in China, Europe or the U.S. can now 3D print the door opener locally.”

For people without access to a 3D printer, Materialise is also selling a set of two hands-free door openers for 40 Euros ($43.20).

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Clean energy company Fortum's hands-free door opener, the Fortum Vipu, is made from recycled plastic. (Fortum)

Clean energy company Fortum's hands-free door opener, the Fortum Vipu, is made from recycled plastic. (Fortum)

As of Friday afternoon, more than 2.78 million coronavirus cases have been diagnosed worldwide, at least 886,213 of which are in the U.S. The disease has accounted for at least 194,664 deaths around the world, including more than 50,000 in the U.S.

The Associated Press contributed to this article.

Follow James Rogers on Twitter @jamesjrogers