With the global COVID-19 pandemic continuing, new technologies like 3D printing have the potential to make the difference in key areas. 3D printing offers something many other manufacturing technologies don’t: customizability, local availability, and cost efficiency.
3D printing is endlessly customizable. Unique designs can be created on a computer and then turned into real objects in a matter of hours. This means that the hardware needed to solve the unique challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic does not require extensive heavy equipment to produce, but can get from design stage to use very rapidly.
This is best demonstrated by the design and creation for unique valves for ventilators that upped hospital ventilator capacity in an Italian hospital in Brescia. The hospital had the machines and masks for patients, but they did not have the valves to connect them. Thanks to a local 3D printing startup, they were able to increase their capacity very quickly, saving lives.
This also highlights 3D printing’s local availability. Equipment that is 3D printed will be on site or close to site the moment it is finished rather than hundreds or even thousands of miles away. This means that healthcare providers and patients alike received equipment such as recently printed face shields when they needed them, rather than placing an order and waiting a month or more for the shipment.
This is one of the reasons 3D printing is cost efficient, as well. The material used to 3D print face shields can be used for any number of designs on the same printer and none of it needs to be shipped after you have the raw material and the printer itself. Also, unlike casting or machining, there does not need to be a minimum number of products to print in order to make it worthwhile to set up manufacturing. Orders can be streamlined to most efficiently use resources.
At Jawstec, we are doing our part by printing masks for local healthcare workers. This pandemic has impacted us all in some way and we are proud to be doing our part to help keep our frontline heroes safe. Recently, the FDA has been partnering with numerous factors and healthcare organizations to start looking into how 3D printed equipment can be used to help combat COVID-19. Contact us today to see how we can help you bring your lifesaving design to reality.