3D Printing: COVID-19 Response, Pt. 1 3/27
The COVID-19 pandemic has seen 3D printers like Stratasys, HP, Protolabs, and Formlabs offer their manufacturing tools to help in the printing of medical equipment that is needed in the fight against the new Coronavirus flu. 3D printing companies are also forming partnerships with medical healthcare facilities, and are calling on customers to join efforts in offering their equipment and assist healthcare providers. Initiatives like ConVent-19 have also been created to bring together engineers and designers of 3D hardware in the wake of the new Coronavirus. The pandemic has also seen digital printing companies being deemed as "essential" in the fight. Other changes as a result of the virus include; the wavering of additional fees for medical equipment, and the entry of automotive companies in the 3D printing of critical medical supplies.
3D printer manufacturers are offering to assist in the printing of vital medical supplies.
- 3D printer manufacturers like HP and Stratasys have joined the fight against COVID-19 by putting their 3D printing tools to work. The companies are manufacturing ventilators for patients, face shields, and protective shields for medical staff.
- Stratasys has ramped up the production of face shields, among other essential equipment, in response to the pandemic.
- Other equipment that Stratasys is planning to make includes "clear plastic shield" and "3D printed frames" that cover the entire face.
- A statement published on Sunday, 22nd March on the Business Wire revealed Stratasys' initial goal of producing over 5,000 face shields by Friday, March 27th, after which the 3D company would scale to produce at a faster rate.
- The company will be using its "direct manufacturing facilities in Minnesota and Valencia" to facilitate the printing.
- Stratasys has also set up a page where healthcare providers can request for critical 3D print supplies.
- In addition to delivering over "1,000 3D printed parts" to various hospitals, HP has ramped up its production to accommodate the 3D printing of between 5,000 to 10,000 medical supply components.
- Components in production include; face shields, face masks, nasal swabs, mask adjusters, respiratory parts, and "hands-free door openers."
- The company is also planning to begin testing and validating designs for "Mechanical Bag Valve Mask (BVM)" to be used as short term emergency ventilators and hospital grade face masks.
- On Wednesday, 25th March, the U.S. Food and Drugs Administration approved the "single-part 3D printed COVID-19 nasopharyngeal test swabs" as a "Class 1 medical device."
- Production of the equipment is being facilitated in HP's research and development centers in Barcelona, San Diego, Corvallis, Oregon, Vancouver and Washington.
- Companies and hospitals in need of specific 3D-printed parts have been urged to submit requests, directly to HP via an online form.
- Protolabs, another 3D printing company, is tweeting the progress of its ventilator parts assembly.
- On Sunday, Protolabs announced that it had "14 molding presses, that were loaded with ventilator parts" with thousands of other completed parts ready for distribution to hospitals.
- The dire need for COVID-19 test swabs has compelled Formlabs to ramp up the production of the same. In a 27th March update on its website , the company renewed its pledge of helping the medical community with supplies in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
- The Boston-based company had earlier announced on Monday 23rd March, that it had helped organize the deployment of 1000 printers to produce test swabs and other personal protective equipment at a quicker rate.
- Formlabs is now producing swabs at a rate of "75,000 and 150,000 swabs per day."
Private owners of 3D printers are joining efforts to prevent COVID-19 fatalities
- The pandemic has also seen private owners of 3D printers, participate in the fight to eradicate the virus. Many 3D printer owners are now offering their equipment to hospitals for the printing of the much-needed ventilators and face shields.
- Formlabs announced on Friday that it had created the "Formlabs Support Network" to match healthcare providers with Formlabs customers "who were willing to use their printers" in addressing a shortage in the supply of critical medical equipment.
- In addition, Formlabs has brought together a team of "over 1500 volunteers to help design and produce parts" that are to be tested and possibly adopted by clinicians.
Initiatives and calls for engineers to help develop critical supply equipment
- Stratasys has joined efforts with the Massachusetts General Hospital in promoting the "CoVent-19 Challenge," which calls for engineers and designers to help develop solutions to curb the ventilator shortage.
- Stratasys aims to promote the challenge to its GrabCAD community of over 7 million professional students, engineers, designers, and manufacturers.
- HP is also calling for designers willing to contribute ideas and new applications to visit their website.
Digital printing companies are being deemed "essential" in the fight against Coronavirus
- According to an update on Tuesday, Protolabs, a Minnesota digital manufacturer that is prioritizing medical orders, has now been deemed an "essential business" in the pandemic.
- Stratasys CEO Yoav Zeif calls for the additive manufacturing industry as a whole to be made "essential" in response to the pandemic.
- Zeif asserts that Stratasys' workforce is prepared to meet the growing demands for 3D printers, bio-compatible materials, and printed parts.
3D companies are collaborating with hospitals, universities, and other organizations in providing full support to healthcare providers.
- In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, 3D printing manufacturers are collaborating with hospitals, learning institutions, and other organizations to provide support in the printing of medical equipment.
- Stratasys has collaborated with Medtronic, a medical technology company, and "Dunwoody College of Technology" in the production of plastic shield material."
- HP announced that it is also working closely with researchers from Harvard University and "Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center" in the gathering of test data, the computation of 3D swab designs, and evaluation of their printing capacities.
- "HP CEO, Enrique Lores" adds that his company is collaborating across the board with key industries in identifying the needed 3D print components.
- In addition, Protolabs, in collaboration with the University of Minnesota, announced that they had designed a ventilator.
- Formlabs also joined efforts with the University of South Florida and Northwell Health in designing test swabs and other test kit components, including respiratory masks and face shields.
Companies with 3D printers are joining in the manufacturing of medical equipment.
- The pandemic has also seen companies that are not exclusive to 3D printing or health industries like Ford Motor Company and Volkswagen join concerted efforts to beat the virus.
- Ford, via CEO Jim Hacket, announced on "CBS This Morning" on Tuesday 24th March that it was partnering with GE healthcare and 3M companies to expand the production of critical medical components like ventilators.
- The company is using its "3D printing factories" to produce face shields and other critical components. Ford is planning on assembling about 100,000 face shields a week. About 75,000 are expected to be done by the end of this week.
- Volkswagen, another automotive company, is planning on using its "125 industrial 3D printers" into use in combating the new Coronavirus.
- The automotive company has admitted that the medical equipment industry is a new field for Volkswagen. A task force has therefore, been formed to help Volkswagen adopt.
- In a statement to Reuters, the motor company said that production would commence soon as it receives a blueprint and understands the requirements of the medical equipment industry.
- SmileDirectClub, an oral care company, has opened its manufacturing facilities for the production of medical supplies. The company hopes to use STL 3D printing files in the manufacturing of critical medical components.
- SmileDirectClub has also partnered with health organizations and medical supply companies to produce respiratory valves and medical face shields.
- CEO David Katzman says that the shortage of medical equipment is a concern for the company, which can fill the gap by printing the required plastic materials.
- The company is urging health organizations and medical supply companies to contact them directly when in need of 3D print equipment.
Medical supply fees are being waived, and design files for critical components offered for free
- On Sunday, 22nd March, Protolabs waived expedite fee for medical supplies in order to get the supplies into the market as quickly as possible. The company is also working closely with the medical industry to "expedite orders without additional fees."
- Stratasys printing company mentioned that printed equipment would be offered "at no cost to the recipient(s)."
- In addition, HP is offering free design files that do not require complex assembly. Designs like the Budmen face shield are already available on its website.