RoboHub technician and long time MME staff member, Robert Wagner, develops a swab booth to test people for COVID-19

Monday, April 20, 2020

RoboHub technician and long time MME staff member, Robert Wagner, develops a swab booth to test people for COVID-19 

The PPE-Free swab testing booth works by providing a hard physical barrier to significantly reduce the amount of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) needed to test patients and protect healthcare professionals.

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Armed with only a short video clip, and working from home, it took five days from start to delivery for RoboHub’s skilled and resourceful, Robert Wagner, to draw-up plans, design, source materials to have the booth delivered initially to the Seaforth Hospital in the Huron Perth Health Alliance network and then to Goderich. 

Front & Back of the booth created in Robert Wagner’s home workshop

The front view of the swab booth created by Robert Wagner in his garage.

Back view of the swab booth created by Robert Wagner

Dr. Agnes Kluz, Huron Perth Health Alliance, saw a Boston news TV clip and needed help replicating a similar product for Goderich and reached out to the University’s MSAM lab, (currently 3D Printing face shields and other medical equipment) to see if they could help. Robert Wagner, who had helped source supplies for MSAM early on in the COVID-19 crisis, volunteered for the task.

The news clip from Boston sent by Dr. Agnes Kluz, Huron Perth Health Alliance  (YouTube)

It was a collaboration of resources; Wagner reveals that it was not easy sourcing materials. The hospital provided three sheets of Lexan/polycarbonate. Rick Forgett, Manager of the University of Waterloo’s Engineering Machine Shop, supplied a 4x4 piece of Lexan and every piece of aluminum angle. Richard Barber, Technical Lab Manager, of Giga-to-Nanoelectronic Centre(G2N) lab supplied glove box gloves he had available. Wagner asked the MSAM lab to produce some 3D printed material for joining the gloves and the box. “I built it without a table saw – thankful I have a steady hand and chalk line. I used a skill saw, cordless drill, drill press, angle grinder and the fasteners I had on hand in my own home workshop.”

Wagner says, “we have expertise in MME and RoboHub to help solve problems presented by the healthcare community.  Building this locally helps local hospitals and also makes them aware we are here to help and we can find ways to get them the tools they need. Look at all the other COVID-19 initiatives at University of Waterloo, from working on DNA-based vaccines, printing face shields, and screening tools – we are collaboratively working together but isolating at the same time.”

Dr. Agnez Kluz in the booth. 

Dr Agnes Kluz in the booth

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