AM and 3D printing communities rally together to fight against COVID-19

General Health

The rapid proliferation of COVID-19 has been putting great strain on healthcare systems across the world, with demand for critical medical equipment and supplies mounting. The additive manufacturing (AM) and 3D printing community has responded to the COVID-19 crisis, pledging to support the production of vital medical equipment for hospitals tackling the pandemic, says GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company.

Most members of the AM and 3D printing communities worldwide have rallied together to help fight critical medical equipment shortages in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. The call to arms has been answered by not only leading industry players, but also individuals with 3D printing experience and resources.”

Rodrigo Noble, Digital Healthcare Analyst at GlobalData

One of the first companies to act was Isinnova, an Italian engineering firm, which reverse engineered and began mass producing critical respiratory valves to assuage shortages across Italy. It also designed the Charlotte valve allowing for Easybreath snorkeling masks to be retrofitted into emergency respirators.

Personal protection equipment (PPE) such as face-shields have been in very limited supply as the number of cases continues to rise. Contrary to surgical masks or respirators, face shields do not require clinical testing. As such, the AM industry has been very active in its production. Carbon and 3D Systems, two leading companies in the AM sector, have developed face shield designs which have been made available to the public free of cost.”

Rodrigo Noble, Digital Healthcare Analyst at GlobalData

Availability of COVID-19 tests has also been grossly inadequate. The medical and additive manufacturing communities have been working relentlessly to solve this shortage through mass-production of testing kit components. EnvisionTEC, a leader in the AM industry, as well as Carbon have designed several different collection tips and swab designs, some of which are already undergoing clinical trials. The FDA has labeled the swabs a Class 1 exempt device. Once verified, the designed swabs will be printed at high volumes and shipped worldwide.

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The rapid response and manufacturing capabilities demonstrated by the AM and 3D printing communities has been commendable and vital to the lives of many patients and healthcare workers. This push has demonstrated the dynamism of the industry and highlights one of 3D printing’s biggest benefits, print-on-demand.”

Rodrigo Noble, Digital Healthcare Analyst at GlobalData

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