How can 3D printing be used to help with the COVID-19 pandemic?
As COVID-19 continues to disrupt supply chains and is causing shortages of essential medical equipment, the 3D printing community is stepping in to help. 3D printing has come a long way in recent years, with manufacturing times improving. The time it takes to print items depends on both the quality of the printer as well as the complexity of the item being printed.
Even the more developed countries are seeing their healthcare systems overloaded and fatigued by COVID-19. Some of the shortages the healthcare system is facing are:
- lack of personal protective equipment (PPE). PPE includes facemasks, gloves, eye protection, and clothing.
- shortage of COVID-19 testing swabs and kits, respirators, and ventilators.
- shortage of masks available to the general public
The 3D printing community is coming together with several initiatives to help combat the spread of COVID-19. Many companies and organizations are aiming the shortages to quickly get materials in the hands of medical professionals, as well as the general public. Here are a few examples of how 3D printing could save lives during this pandemic.
1.Testing: 3D printed parts can be used to develop components of test kits, such as swabs, needed to diagnose COVID-19.
2.Personal Protective Equipment: While directly printing N95 masks is not recommended, there are several components of masks which could be 3D printed to protect both the public and healthcare professionals. Several are being tested as we speak.
3.Medical Equipment: This includes ventilators, spare parts, etc.
4.Accessories: This includes arm activated door latches, foot pulls, nasal swabs, etc.
3D printing involves making things layer by layer, directly from digital files. It allows things to be made where and when they are required, without the expensive tools or moulds that mass production requires. While it might cost more to make a single product, 3D printing can make manufacturing faster and more responsive to changing demand.
If there’s any good news in the tragedy of COVID-19, it may be that 3D printing has had an opportunity to prove itself as a solution for fast production of essential components for life-saving machines.
This seems to be good for health provision, but it’s also important in that it gives people who own 3D printing solutions an opportunity to feel that they are doing something to help in the struggle against the disease.
Fusion is doing its part to combat the spread of coronavirus and is now working remotely. However, we are continuing with day-to-day operations and are free to answer any questions or concerns you may have.