AM in the time of COVID-19

Carbon joins COVID-19 relief efforts with 3D printed face shields, swabs and more

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Silicon Valley 3D printing company Carbon is leveraging its 3D printing technology and extensive network of contract manufacturers to produce medical equipment and device components to help in the efforts to contain and treat the novel coronavirus. The company’s Digital Light Synthesis technology and resin materials can be used for a range of parts, including face shields, testing swabs and more.

As we’ve seen over the past couple of weeks, additive manufacturing is playing an increasingly important role in the fight against the global pandemic we are facing. The technology is proving to be useful in its ability to overcome supply chain challenges by producing parts on the fly and, in many cases, locally.

Medical supplies that are in increasingly short supply, like masks and face shields, are being additively manufactured to meet growing demand, protecting the front-line medical workers from potential exposure to the virus. Carbon, for its part, is offering up its polymer 3D printing capabilities and resources to produce a range of parts and medical devices, such as Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) face shields and test swabs for patient sampling.

Carbon COVID-19 face shields
3D printed face shield

At this stage, the company’s operations at its California facility are exclusively focused on its COVID-19 response, and it has also enlisted the help of its global network of customers and partners to meet production demands.

3D printed face shields

One of the company’s initiatives is the development of a face shield that can be made on industrial 3D printers. The design was developed in cooperation with Verily, the Alphabet-owned company behind Project Baseline, a COVID-19 online screening platform. Carbon recently hosted a webinar with 300 members of its global network, where it announced it would be releasing the Face Shield design this week for accessible production. Healthcare workers at Stanford Hospital and Kaiser Permanente are reportedly already testing prototypes of the shields.

“We are working to facilitate local-for-local, on-demand production of these Face Shields to protect healthcare professionals and first responders on the COVID-19 frontlines,” said the company. “We will send medical face shield designs to our network of customers who have the ability to print the components with Carbon 3D printers.”

3D printed test swabs

Carbon COVID-19 test swabs
3D printed test swab prototypes

Carbon is also developing designs for 3D printed test swabs, which can be used to increase testing capacity for the virus. Three lattice swab designs are now in the process of being clinically assessed. This testing initiative is being conducted in collaboration with Stanford Medical Center, Harvard Medical School/Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Desktop Metal’s Ric Fulop, Chan Zuckerberg BioHub and University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Carbon adds that it is also in talks with adidas—which uses DLS to mass produce midsoles—and its partners at the Mayo Clinic and ASU to leverage their production capacity for the effort.

Subscription updates

Finally, Carbon has made an announcement that is aimed at helping its small- and medium-sized customers. Carbon customers with under 250 employees are being granted a payment extension for Carbon’s 3D printer subscriptions.

The company explains: “This crisis—its scale and its severity—has taken us and the world by surprise. Small and medium sized businesses are feeling the effects of this. In an effort to help alleviate some of the financial burden and pressure our SMB customers (less than 250 employees) are feeling during these unprecedented times, we are extending our payment terms by 30 days for all printer subscription invoices already issued and due from March 23 to the end of April and for all new printer subscription invoices issued between March 23 and the end of April.”

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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