Novel Coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic has gripped the entire world leading to severe disruptions of supply chains across the world. The ripple effect can be seen on the availability of supplies, especially those relating to healthcare, and the shortages many countries are facing. While the world is still trying to come to terms with the crisis, the 3D printing technology has offered a relief to the frontline workers and is safeguarding them from the direct attack of the virus.
The technology is has proved to be valuable in manufacturing PPE kits, customised masks, valves, face guards, unique safety products and even in the construction of isolation wards.
Through this article we see how 3D printing is helping in the fight against Covid-19 and how the 3D printing companies are opening up their facilities to provide access to its 3D printers and expertise to find ways to safeguard people from contracting the virus.
ITALIAN HOSPITAL 3D PRINTING RESPIRATORY VALVES
A hospital in Italy, unfortunately, the current hotbed of Covid-19, houses more than 250 affected patients and the steady stream of patients has taken its toll on some of the devices it has. The breathing machines required to supply the patients with oxygen ran out of the respiratory valves needed to connect the patients to the machines. The original supplier was unable to meet the sudden rise in demand and the hospital needed a solution for this critical problem.
Fortunately, Cristian Fracassi, CEO of Isinnova, an Italian 3D printing start-up, had an idea to help the hospital by 3D printing the valves that would perfectly carry out the function of the valves.
The company rapidly 3D printed more than 100 valves and the crisis was overcome. It resulted in saving patients’ lives due to the quick response and solution by the team.
NEW YORK COUPLE CREATE 3D PRINTED PLASTIC FACE SHIELDS TO PROTECT HEALTH CARE WORKERS FROM CORONAVIRUS
A New York couple, Isaac Budmen and Stephanie Keefe, 3D printing technology to create special face shields to help healthcare workers to safeguard themselves from Coronavirus.
The couple owns Budmen Industries, a company in Liverpool that manufactures and sells custom 3D printers. Upon hearing about the desperate need for face shields they decided to use the 3D printers at their disposal to create some shields and they quickly designed and 3D printed the same to be made available for the local healthcare workers.
So far, they’ve created more than 300 face shields. Demand is growing as the story of their creation spread around the globe.
According to Budmen, “There are institutions all over the world who are looking for personal protective equipment, and they want shields. We also had 200 plus volunteers with 3D printers offering to produce these things all over the world, too.”
Budmen stressed that he isn’t looking to make money from creating the face shields. His company has posted its shield design, files, and 3D printing templates online to make them available to anyone for free.
3D PRINTED QUARANTINE BOOTHS FOR CHINESE HOSPITALS
Shanghai-based Winsun Building Technique Co Ltd, Winsun, decided to contribute to the current Covid-19 pandemic. The company 3D printed and delivered 15 3D printed quarantine rooms to Xianning Central Hospital in the Hubei Province.
According to Winsun chairman Ma Yihe, “Each quarantine ward measures 10 square meters and can accommodate two beds. The structures, each of which cost 20,000 yuan ($2,864), are made of recycled industrial residue and construction materials and have been designed to withstand strong winds and earthquakes. Every ward also comes with a separate toilet compartment.”
The rooms’ interiors are decorated and have water and electricity supplies. According to Winsun, the printed walls are 3x stronger than traditional concrete walls.
FREE-TO-DOWNLOAD HANDS-FREE DOOR HANDLE BY MATERIALISE
Materialise, one of the leading additive manufacturing companies in the world, recently released a free-to-download design for a hands-free door handle to open and close doors. This product is created so that people can use their clothed arms to open the doors and not directly touching the handle and thus safeguard themselves from spreading the disease.
The company spokesperson commented, “Door handles are among the most germ-infested objects in houses, hospitals, factories, and elderly homes. We stand behind our mission to build a better and healthier world, which is why we’re sharing free design files for all worldwide to 3D print hands-free door openers. Careful analyses by our risk prevention advisors on how viruses spread confirm that by using our covered arms instead of our bare hands, we can work together to avoid further passing on COVID-19. Let’s work together to stop the spread!”
3D PRINTED COVID-19 TEST KITS
Protolabs, one of the largest 3D printing companies in the world, recently revealed their contribution to the Covid-19 outbreak. The company is already producing more than 10,000 Covid-19 test kits and ventilators for multiple customers from across the globe. The first lot of the test kits were shipped a couple of days ago.
3D PRINTING COMPANIES OFFER THEIR PRINTING FACILITIES
Multiple 3D printing companies have opened up their 3D printing facilities to help innovators, researchers, scientists, and engineers to use their 3D print farms and also their expertise to create solutions to fight the war against the pandemic.
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ULTIMAKER CONNECTS 3D PRINTING HUBS, EXPERTS, AND DESIGNERS WITH HOSPITALS
To help with the fight against Covid-19, Ultimaker is making its global network of its designers, experts, & 3D printing hubs available for hospitals in need of tools that are in short supply. The experts are analysing and shortlisting items that can be 3D printed and the same are being produced the Ultimaker hubs.
For this, Ultimaker launched two initiatives:
- Connect and Print
Hospitals facing shortage of essential supplies can now directly connect with 3D printing experts nearby to send their 3D print requests to be printed. Ultimaker gets the same 3D printed through in-house machines or through its partner hubs.
- Design, Check, and Print
If the hospital feels the need to design new supplies then they are connecting with Ultimaker designers and experts to collaborate and design such products, testing them, getting necessary approvals and finally getting them printed.
PRUSA TO PRODUCE MEDICAL GEAR
Prusa Research realized that the even though a lot of 3D printing companies are rapidly producing the face shields, the designs need to be optimized for faster and easier printing by eliminating the need for supports & more number of pieces should fit on a single print bed.
So, Prusa research, backed by this logic, started producing face shields that are faster to produce. The early prototypes will be tested and verified for usage and then put on rapid full-scale production. Prusa’s 3D Printing farm, the world’s biggest, can theoretically print up to 4000 pieces per day.
According to Josef Prusa, “I want to get this to as many people who need it as soon as possible, around the world. If you guys have the tools and capacity for it, you can start preparing now, even before we have the final design. It’s a great time to give your printer a tune-up and to stock up on materials so you are ready to start printing as soon as we release the designs.”
The world is facing a crisis like no other in recent history and it needs to unite against the same. The 3D printing industry is using all its capabilities of rapidly producing new or replacement parts and showcasing the power of the technology and playing its part in the fight against Covid-19.
(Note: Manufactur3D is not responsible for the legality, validity and feasibility of the products mentioned in this article but we are reporting on how companies have taken up numerous initiatives to fight against the pandemic. We are not responsible for the effects of the products – good or bad)
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