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Introducing Glia Poland – the Youngest Office in the Glia Family.Our small team of two is based in Rybnik – a small city in southern Silesia, the Polish industrial cluster, where many companies labor to generate roughly 13% of the country’s GDP among the smell of coal and rattle of machinery. Adam Popanda, a former programmer who now works for Glia full-time, is a graduate of Jagiellonian University with a swift mind, initiative, and passion for producing Glia tourniquets. Sonia Kujawa, an awarded Master of Arts from Jan Matejko Academy of Fine Arts, is a young entrepreneur who primarily designs miniature drawing machines for creating her artwork. She introduced Adam to homemade CNC machinery and thus piqued his curiosity toward prototyping and manufacturing working products.
Our interest in Glia, and opening up an office in Poland, was intentional. With the Russian invasion of Ukraine, there was a sudden need for many vital goods and appliances. For us, it was our first contact with the grim reality of war, as we are too young to know the horrors our parents and grandparents had to endure during World War II. In early 2022, about 3 million Ukrainians crossed the Polish border to save themselves and their relatives, with many heartbreaking events happening in the process. At this time it was common for Polish families, including ours, to provide them with food and housing. Many Polish households are still building strong, helpful communities dedicated to healing and easing pain. Unfortunately, there are Ukrainians that could not escape and are stuck with feelings of dread and imminent danger. Some are fighting bravely to push back the Russian attack. Because Ukrainian lives are directly threatened, we decided to make tourniquets - a vital, life-saving device - proven to greatly reduce deadly hemorrhage from penetrating trauma wounds.
In the Beginning
Our mission is to design an open source injection molding process for manufacturing the Glia Tourniquet. Injection molded parts have greater strength compared to 3D printed, making them our focal point of research. We invested in the equipment needed to prototype and produce the devices. Since Adam had previously acquired a Root CNC milling machine, an FDM 3D printer, and the Buster Beagle Mk3 desktop injection molding machine, our first purchase specific to this project was a 3D resin printer (inset photo of our resin printer and curing station including the first resin molds produced for the Glia Tourniquet clip) to make molds from a temperature-resistant ceramic compound. This is a notably cheaper technology than milling molds from aluminum, and we tested this process to its limits with great success! We were able to inject all the parts with ABS plastic, which is notorious for its challenging properties. Unfortunately, this method was not sustainable as the molds shattered like glass after just a few injections and we were forced to switch to aluminum molds.
Expansion of Poland's Expertise
While we were waiting for the molds to be milled we purchased an industrial sewing machine to sew the tourniquet straps. We had problems finding an Omni-Tape vendor in Europe, a critical component for producing our tourniquets. However, due to rising demands (partially driven by the need for tourniquet production in the region) alternate brands of self-adhesive hook and loop fasteners entered the market. We ordered and test-drove one of the alternate brands and realized yet another success! We found we were able to use three straps of material instead of ten, which made an enormous difference in sewing time. We determined that when all strips are cut and prepared we are able to sew one complete tourniquet strap in about 5 minutes, realizing a significant reduction in labour time/costs.
Persistence is Required to Overcome Hurdles
Our success streak, unfortunately, was limited. When the aluminum molds arrived and we attempted to inject the ABS into them. Although they filled out properly, defects started to appear in the plastic structure causing the finished part to be more brittle and prone to breaking. We began our long troubleshooting process and ultimately had to purchase additional equipment to dry the plastic.
We tried different subtypes of ABS and contaminated our injecting chamber in the process, forcing us to replace it. We ruled out both contamination and pellet moisture as our culprit, however, the injected parts still show delamination. This structural defect prevented us from proceeding further as it requires expensive solutions to address this problem. With the hope of resolving this issue, we are currently testing a wide variety of plastic samples - our main expense - as their properties vary depending on subtype and origin. To ensure success, we need to connect with more injection molding experts, and finding those people occupies a significant portion of our time. Ultimately, we may need to consider upgrading our equipment in order to ensure we're able to produce the high-quality products expected by our end users.
Currently, we have completed approximately 80% of the documentation outlining the steps to developing a successful injection-molded Glia Tourniquet production line. Our progress has met a roadblock due to these outstanding issues, as resolving them requires more resources than we currently have available.
We Need Your Help - Donate Today!
We would like to thank Public Invention for their support, for which we are sincerely grateful. Their donation has helped us immensely in proving that at-home injection molding was an attainable solution and has enabled us to make enormous progress with milling out our molds.
In order to see this project through to fruition, we need your help. We are determined to deliver the highest quality product attainable by ensuring the optimum strength, rigidity, and thorough QA analysis of our injection-molded Glia Tourniquet. All of our research is documented in the Tourniquet GitHub, so that anyone, anywhere in the world who needs to manufacture tourniquets, can learn from our process.
We have relentlessly proven that nothing is impossible! Challenges have arisen and we have been able to overcome all of them with hard work, determination, and expert help from local engineers and injection molding enthusiasts.
For United States-based donors: Public Invention is our fiscal sponsor for United States-based donors and those with a Donor Advised Fund (DAF). For more information, contact: email@example.com.
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