How 3D printing companies faced the Coronavirus crisis
Medical devices are needed but more importantly efforts need to be coordinated
As many industrial giants around the world (Tesla, Ferrari, Airbus, FCA just to mention a few) take extensive measures to repurpose their production lines, for 3D printing companies this is just a matter of changing the CAD file. While 3D printing alone does not have the industrial capabilities to serially produce very complex machinery it can certainly play a role in many other situations that require a rapid response. The situation is evolving rapidly: 3dpbm is in touch with dozens of 3D printing companies around the world that have made their services and expertise available in a number of ways. This is how some of the leading 3D printing companies are responding to the COVID-19 emergency so far.
Stratasys is using its industrial FDM technology to produce personal protective gear for medical professionals, to address the threat of shortages of items such as masks and face shields. Working across all brands – Stratasys, Stratasys Direct, and GrabCAD – and with some of its most important medical industry customers, Stratasys is helping to meet that need with 3D printing resources through a dedicated page. The first face shield reference designs were supplied to a prominent University and they have approved their use on campus using Stratasys equipment.
Stratasys is also working to set up a system, leveraging GrabCAD Shop software and 3D printing resources, to enable the medical community to 3D print models and prototypes to address pandemic-related challenges, and connecting them with Stratasys Direct when their needs are larger. More long term Stratasys is supporting the CoVent-19 Challenge which is an open innovation effort hosted by residents from Massachusetts General Hospital. The goal of the challenge is to design a rapidly deployable mechanical ventilator for this and future pandemics. You can reach the company at StratasysHelps@stratasys.com and your request will be directed to the right place.
[Update: March 30, 2020]: Since announcing its support of COVID-19 efforts, Stratasys has reportedly received requests for 350,000 face shields. To meet this demand, the company is seeking other production partners to join its coalition. Today, the Stratasys-led coalition has over 150 members, including Boeing, Toyota Motor Company, Medtronic, Dunwoody College of Technology, the University of Central Florida, and the University of Minnesota. Stratasys invites any 3D printing shop that can print at least 100 visors to full out an online form to join the coalition.
HP is putting significant resources behind efforts to assist in the public health response. The HP Foundation donated $1M to support affected communities with critical medical supplies. In addition, HP has donated PCs and printers to help hospitals in affected areas get up and running. Specifically, with respect to 3D printing, HP is working with hospitals to validate a series of devices that can be offer support to medical professionals. The first two devices – a door opener and a surgical mask adjuster – were made available in a dedicated page. [Update March 24, 2020]: HP officially announced it is mobilizing its 3D printing teams and resources to help deliver critical medical supplies to hospitals in need. The company has already delivered over 1,000 3D printed parts to hospitals.
Desktop Metal is offering medical equipment manufacturers and those making critical medical parts, access to its technology and engineering resources in order to provide free 3D printing services. The Boston firm has made itself available to provide metal 3D printing services for COVID-19 supplies. In a dedicated page, anyone that needs parts manufactured in metal can review a series of guidelines and submit a form with contact information.
3D Systems is offering its services to support healthcare providers under great strain as they provide treatment and care to affected patients. The company set up a dedicated page to enable its customers and partners to join us in sharing resources to help overcome this pandemic. If you are able to offer your engineering team’s time and expertise, or access to 3D printers, you can offer support. Conversely, if you are a hospital or healthcare provider that needs help to bridge a supply chain gap, you can use this page to communicate your specific needs.
[Update March 27, 2020]: 3D Systems is currently producing prototypes of the same valves proven in emergency hospital conditions in Italy in its facilities in Rock Hill, South Carolina and Lawrenceburg, Tennessee for emergency COVID-19 response efforts. The company anticipates it has the capacity to deliver up to 12,600 units per week in clear plastic, and another 1,400 per week in durable Nylon. The company’s On Demand facility in Pinerolo, Italy also partnered with Isinnova to produce 100 valves for emergency ventilator masks.
Finally, 3D Systems has also developed a new COVID-19 module for its Simbionix U/S Mentor simulator, which will help provide hands-on experience in the education of point-of-care ultrasound skills that are crucial in triage and in monitoring the virus. The module is to be released on March 30, 2020.
Carbon has not yet made public announcements about its activities however the company has been working with medical industry partners and hospitals to 3D print both face shields (PPE) and swabs for COVID-19 testing. Some of Carbon’s materials are medical grade and approved for medical use. [Update March 25, 2020: Carbon has publicly announced how it is contributing to COVID-19 relief efforts.]
In collaboration with Verily, the Alphabet company behind the Project Baseline, the COVID-19 online screening website, Carbon has designed a Face Shield that can easily be produced on industrial 3D printers.
The goal is to enable the global network of partners and other 3D printing companies, such as HP, to leverage this design and maximize face shield production capabilities to address needs in many local areas.
Carbon is producing these Face Shields and is engaging its global network of customers and partners, working to scale these further. Healthcare workers at Stanford Hospital and Kaiser Permanente are already testing prototypes of these Face Shields.
Carbon is also working on helping to increase the COVID-19 testing capacity by developing designs for 3D Printed test swabs. Three Carbon designs are currently going through clinical assessment. Though Carbon is working with speed and urgency to save lives, we are not compromising the need for clinical assessments and validations. The company has been working with Stanford Medical Center, Harvard Medical School/Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Ric Fulop at Desktop Metal, Chan Zuckerberg BioHub, and University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill on these validations. Pending the validation of these designs, Carbon and its network aim to produce over a million test swabs per week [Updated on 3-24-2020].
Formlabs is working with many customers in the healthcare space using Formlabs’ products to test applications for COVID-19 related projects and recently launched the Formlabs Support Network for COVID-19 Response. This is an initiative to match healthcare organizations and providers with Formlabs customers who are willing to use their printers and volunteer their time to help address critical supply chain shortages and other healthcare needs. We are working closely with health systems, government agencies, and our network of over 750 volunteers to help design, prototype, and produce parts to be tested and potentially adopted by clinicians.
Fill out the form if:
- You or your organization is working on COVID-19 related projects and need access to 3D printed parts.
- You or your team have access to Formlabs manufactured 3D printers and are willing to volunteer your time and equipment in the fight against COVID-19.
Formlabs has fielded hundreds of requests, evaluated dozens of potential applications for 3D printed products, and is now supporting a handful of projects with high-impact potential. The current priority areas were selected based on clinical demand, technical feasibility, and regulatory implications. Priority areas for focus include test kit swabs, masks, and face shields. Once designs have been tested and validated by the medical community, Formlabs has the resources available to scale production to thousands of parts per week, engaging internal resources and community of volunteers to produce parts for healthcare providers all over the world.
Currently, Formlabs is already working on three key projects, with guidance from medical thought leaders and physician innovators. These include COIVD-19 test kit swabs, conversion kits for snorkeling mask into a PPE device and face shields. In particular, there is an urgent need to address the shortage of nasopharyngeal (NP) swabs used to collect samples for COVID-19 testing. These swabs are also used for testing for influenza and other respiratory infections. The current and impending shortages are serious enough that hospitals are beginning to triage both influenza and COVID-19 testing due to the limited supply of swabs. NP swabs are flexible sticks with a bristled end that are inserted into the nose to the back of the nasal cavity and swept around to collect material that sticks to or wicks up the bristles. The swab is then placed into a vial that contains a culture medium. Swab sticks have an intentionally weak point 7-8cm from the bristled tip, which allows the stick to be broken to the correct length so that the vial can be capped before it is transported to a laboratory for testing.
Formlabs is using the swab designs created by medical researchers, reviewed by various hospital groups and printing samples of the test swab. These samples are then tested by the hospitals and research groups to ensure that they are safe for patient use and can provide accurate test results.
The Belgian 3D printing service provider was among the first large AM firms to take action to help curb the Coronavirus spread by making available 3D printable models for hands-free 3D printed door openers. Door handles are among the most germ-infested objects in houses, hospitals, factories, and elderly homes. On a dedicated page, the firm shared free design files for all worldwide to 3D print hands-free door openers. Careful analyses by internal risk prevention advisors on how viruses spread confirmed that by using our covered arms instead of bare hands, it is possible to help avoid further passing on COVID-19.
As one of the largest 3D printing platforms in the world, Shapeways is in contact with additive manufacturers and 3D printing engineers to 3D print medical supplies that are in critical need. If your organization is seeking additional options using 3D printing, or if you have a model that you’d like to share you can get in touch on a dedicated page.
The page includes a centralized hub where hospitals, medical centers, and their employees can access Shapeways and understand how 3D printing can help. They will also find a digital inventory of open source 3D printable designs created by the community that can be produced through AM. Shapeways have also dedicated production capacity to ensure these needs are prioritized, reaching out to bring together the broader industry – including 3D printing manufacturing and materials partners.
This rapid manufacturing service integrates both AM and other production technologies in a network of over 4,000 manufacturing facilities around the world. Xometry is working to provide supplies to protect medical workers and first responders as well as parts for ventilators and diagnostic devices. Many of these devices (or parts for them) can be 3D printed, molded, or machined. If you have a medical or personal protective equipment (PPE) project, you can submit it by filling out the form on this dedicated page.
Siemens is opening its AM Network Platform to everyone who requires medical device design or print services. Through this network, healthcare professionals can reach designers and suppliers worldwide who will prepare the parts needed to keep medical centers running.
In response to the ongoing global health crisis caused by the outbreak of the COVID-19 virus, Siemens is making its Additive Manufacturing (AM) Network along with its 3D printers, available to the global medical community to speed design and production of medical components. The AM Network connects users, designers and 3D print service providers to enable faster and less complicated production of spare parts for machines like ventilators. The Siemens AM network is available globally and covers the entire value chain – from upload and simulation to checking the design up to the printing process and associated services.
Roboze began the 3D production of respirator valves used for Covid-19 patients, intended for hospitals throughout Italy and even be-yond. From the beginning, the company made its machines and team available to Italian healthcare organizations to combat the shortage of spare parts during the fight against COVID-19.
Hundreds of valves were printed through the Roboze 3D Parts division, which will be supplied free of charge for artificial respirators for COVID-19 patients. In collaboration with Dallara, the company will continue production having accepted other requests from other hospitals in Italy and around the world.
German 3D printing company voxeljet is throwing its resources and expertise behind the fight against COVID-19. The company has completed the first deliveries of 3D printed mounts for face shields to the emergency ward of a hospital in Bavaria and is accepting requests for face shields from health providers. The company is also offering its 3D printing capacity as part of Siemens’ AM Network effort, as well as through Mission Goes Additive’s 3D Printing Fights Corona initiative. The latter is a joint effort with Digital Supply Chain Solutions (DSCS) to mobilize MGA members to 3D print COVID-19 relief supplies where needed.
EOS created the 3DAgainstCorona platform to help members of the 3D printing community in supporting others battling Covid-19. The German firm wants to provide others with the inspiration they need to tackle this pandemic as a community, as a team. The disease knows no borders, which is why this is done on a global level leveraging additive manufacturing as a technology that can be used to help others. Products – life-saving applications such as medical supplies – can be produced locally and quickly thanks to a digital supply chain.
[This article will continue to be updated as new information comes in]
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