Amidst the coronavirus pandemic, the entire world is facing a dire need for specialized medical and healthcare products and resources. In a rigmarole to meet this huge demand, many countries have turned to 3D printing technology.
The COVID-19 pandemic has caused several critical medical supply chains to fail. As a result, digital manufacturers are stepping in and producing thousands of medical tools like ventilator parts, masks and nasal swabs for carrying out the daily COVID-19 tests and treatment. With the help of 3D printing technology, companies are now helping hospitals across the globe to acquire the necessary medical kits and tools for diagnosing the crowds of coronavirus patients coming in.
During the pandemic, there is a visible lack of organized effort to ramp up production and thus, all of this is happening more on an ad hoc basis. Healthcare providers, universities, manufacturers, local and state agencies all are trying to find companies that have the required expertise and capacity to deliver in this crisis.
The 3D printing communities are volunteering their time and resources to produce these vital equipment and supplies to save lives. To dig in further, let’s explore the various ways that 3D printing technology is contributing to battle out this catastrophe.
Many 3D printing technology manufacturers and developers have come forward to crank out nasal swabs to help the testing process. For instance, Formlabs is one such 3D printing company in Ohio that has manufactured more than hundred thousand nasal swabs. They are shipping these nasal swabs to the hospitals across the country for early COVID-19 detection. Not only that, but they have also released their 3D design publicly so that it can help other manufacturers to produce more swabs.
Universities, state and local agencies are locating 3D printing service providers to develop low cost ventilators to support coronavirus patients in this time of acute shortage of medical equipment. In fact, 3D printing has made it possible to achieve “ventilator splitting”, which can support multiple patients with a single ventilator. They are producing hundreds of such equipment in a day to meet the increasing need amidst the outbreak. Ventilators have now become the primary weapon in the fight against COVID-19. Many 3D printing enthusiasts are even working from home to help hospitals win this battle and save lives.
Hospitals have been facing a significant shortage of respirators and airway pressure masks. These medical tools are extremely crucial for providing sub-intensive care to coronavirus patients. To fight against this shortage, a company named Isinnova has developed innovative respirators by converting scuba masks.
Oxygen valves are in high demand in this outbreak because they are vital equipment to connect the coronavirus patients to the ventilator machines. 3D printing companies have started to mass produce oxygen valves using 3D printing technology. For instance, Isinnova collaborated with a local manufacturing firm in Italy to produce 100 oxygen valves in a day. 3D printing companies are volunteering to provide 3D-printed valves for reanimation devices at hospitals to treat COVID-19 patients.
Masks and shields
Companies like Ford and Carbon have started to make prototypes of transparent face shields for healthcare providers and medical staff. Maker Nexus is a nonprofit organization that has been able to mass produce face masks for local hospitals using 3D printing technology. Prusa 3D made tens of thousands of protective face shields and started supplying them to local frontline staff and doctors and they were able to cover the local demand.
3D printing manufacturers have started to manufacture 3D safety goggles to fight COVID-19. Several Chinese 3D printing experts were able to quickly develop, prototype, optimize, manufacture and validate more than 10,000 safety goggles on a daily basis. They have made the design publicly available so that it can be produced globally. There are two different types of design, one of which is especially dedicated to medical workers.
During this outbreak, 3D printing companies have also been able to use its resources to create separate quarantine rooms for COVID-19 patients. For the source material, they have mainly utilized crushed urban construction waste. The main purpose of those quarantine booths or isolation wards is to ease the stress and burden of patient crowds on the hospital resources and supplies.
In a nutshell, it can’t be denied that 3D printing is continually playing a major part in curbing this outbreak and saving the lives of the COVID-19 patients. We now need to see what further measures the 3D printing suppliers and manufacturers can take to expand their capacity and give us support like this in emergency situations.
Today, we are privileged with numerous online platforms that allow 3D printing service providers around the world not only to print products based on uploaded designs, but also to propose improvements and share them with others. MELT – Rapid Production Solutions is one such 3D printing specialist that has an experience of serving most of the major industries including automobile, healthcare, construction, electronics, jewellry and IoT (Internet of Things).
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