AM in the time of COVID-19

Carbon now producing 1 million nasal swabs a week for COVID-19 testing

Sportswear brand adidas joins the effort to produce face shields

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3D printing company Carbon has ramped up its effort to fight against COVID-19. The company announced today that it is producing over 1 million nasopharyngeal swabs per week to help support widespread testing fo COVID-19. The company has also revealed that sportswear giant adidas is using its Digital Light Synthesis (DLS) systems to help 3D print PPE face shields for U.S. healthcare workers.

Silicon Valley-based Carbon has been leveraging its resources in the COVID-19 fight since last month, along with many other 3D printing companies. Additive manufacturing has proven to be a vital technology in the rapid production and deployment of personal protective equipment (PPE) like face shields, as well as other useful components, like nasal swabs for COVID-19 testing and ventilator and respirator components.

Carbon nasal swabs

In an update from Carbon, we’ve learned that the company is now scaling production of its lattice nasal swabs, producing over 1 million swabs per week, which will be distributed to medical professionals in collaboration with Resolution Medical, an in vitro diagnostic and medical device manufacturer. The company says that depending on the need for test swabs, it can scale production to millions of swabs per week. A detailed look at how 3D printed nasal swabs work can be found here.

The 3D printed swabs are being made from KeySplint Soft Clear, a biocompatible material that is commonly used for the production of orthodontic and dental devices such as mouth guards, night guards and snoring appliances. “Triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic, Carbon’s engineers and material scientists quickly sprung to action to identify the KeySplint Soft Clear material as having the right balance of properties to make a soft, flexible swab with appropriate strength that could be printed with precision using the Carbon M2 at 75 micron pixels,” said Dr. Joseph DeSimone, Co-Founder and Executive Chairman at Carbon. “Resolution Medical, our production partner since 2018, has been amazing in leading the effort to launch the product.”

“Resolving the national shortage of nasopharyngeal testing swabs is critical to the global fight against COVID-19,” added Dr. Ramy Arnaout, a clinical pathologist who led the coalition of researchers working with Carbon to design and evaluate the nasal swabs. “We have brought together a multi-disciplinary team of scientists, academics, and industry partners in a shared effort to resolve this crisis and have begun a clinical trial of Lattice Swabs and other prototypes here at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.”

Carbon’s Lattice Swab is classified by the FDA as a Class I 510(k) Exempt in vitro diagnostic medical device.

adidas supports production of PPE

Carbon has also revealed that one of its most high-profile clients, adidas, is utilizing its extensive 3D printing capacity to help produce PPE face shields for U.S. healthcare workers and first responders. The face shields, based on an open-source design released by Carbon, are reportedly being made by adidas from the same material used for its 4D printed footwear products.

Carbon Face shield

Many of Carbon’s other customers, including dental company Candid, have converted their manufacturing operations to produce 3D printed face shields. At this point, Carbon says it is producing over 18,000 PPE face shields per week and has the capacity to print over 50,000 across its global network. To facilitate the scaling of face shield production, Carbon has shared its face shield design, allowing anyone with a Carbon system to produce it. Those in need of PPE, can request face shields directly through the company. Other open source STL files for face shields and other useful parts can be found on our AM for COVID-19 forum.

Learn about how other large AM companies are helping in COVID-19 relief efforts and how the additive industry is stepping up to help in this crisis.

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Tess Boissonneault

Tess Boissonneault is a Montreal-based content writer and editor with five years of experience covering the additive manufacturing world. She has a particular interest in amplifying the voices of women working within the industry and is an avid follower of the ever-evolving AM sector. Tess holds a master's degree in Media Studies from the University of Amsterdam.

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