4 Ways to Keep 3D Printing in Fight against COVID-19

No one surely envisioned the sheer impact that the COVID-19 pandemic had bought when it first surfaced earlier this year and the number of uncertainties that came along with it.

While we can only hope for it to pass soon, there’s no denying that it has had an impact on our everyday lives with the lockdown of cities, supermarket clear-outs, working from home.

Under the immense strain that the pandemic has undeniably placed on hospitals and healthcare systems, we have seen stories of how 3D printing is playing a part in relieving medical supplies shortages in a short period.

Here are a select few since the onset of the pandemic:

1)  Lung model that was infected with the COVID-19 virus

The lung model was printed by Deed3D, a China-based service bureau, with a Stratasys J750 PolyJet multi-color, multi-material 3D Printer and was able to display the internal structures through the control of material ratio, color, value, the hardness of each material, and the transparency % depending on the area.

Essentially, the model allowed researchers and doctors to see things that they can’t with typical 2D images.

This was especially critical as this was made quickly at a time when everyone was still discovering about the virus and helped contribute to the disease study of Covid-19 in Wuhan.

Source: Miranda Shao @ LinkedIn

2) Enhancing protection for hospital workers

Photo: K.Y. Cheng
Photo: K.Y. Cheng

Front-line medical workers have had to work for long hours following the outbreak with thousands steaming into the hospital for checks, and they require more protection especially with so many unknowns still about the virus.

To aid in their tireless efforts, Polytechnic University’s 3D printing lab in Hong Kong 3D printed medical face shields for hospital workers battling against the virus, tapping on FDM 3D printers from Stratasys, MakerBot, etc.

Consisting of a 3D-printed frame, the face shield is worn against the forehead, which holds a plastic sheet covering the entire face. The single-use shields can be worn over surgical masks, which doctors and nurses already wear, and help further protect against bodily fluids that could carry infections.

Using 3D printing, the lab was able to design, test, and approve the final product in less than a week. This included several design iterations that were made following feedback from doctors that had trialed them.

Source: SCMP

3) Hands-free door handle

Going hands-free is one of the prevention steps against possible Covid-19 virus, and Belgian additive manufacturing software solutions provider and service bureau, Materialise, has contributed to the global containment effort by releasing digital files of a 3D printed hands-free door opener for free.

The door opener idea came during an internal meeting where the idea came while they were discussing measures to protect their employees and visitors, such as direct contact with door handles which could contribute to the spread of the virus.

The 3D printed door opener can be attached to any existing door handles without fuss, and allows one to just open and close doors by using their arms as leverage instead of their hands.

The power of 3D printing allowed the team to create, test, and validate their design within 24 hours, and anyone with access to a 3D printer can print or modify the design to suit any door handles.

That’s the flexibility and freedom of design through 3D printing.

Download the design files.

4) 3D printed valves for respirators

We all know about how Italy is badly affected by the Covid-19 virus in the sheer number of infected cases and deaths, and at hospitals, one of their immediate problems was requiring a large number of working respirators for people who need them to fight off the infection long enough for their antibodies to fight it.

Overwhelmed by the sheer number of patients needing working respirators, Mellini di Chiari hospital put up a local newspaper ad asking for help in getting replacement valves to keep them working.

Massimo Temporelli, the founder of Italian manufacturing solutions company, FabLab, took up the call. Because of some patent issues with the original manufacturer, the company instead reverse engineered the existing valves and 3D printed three different versions to see which one worked best.

Because of their quick work, they managed to save about 10 critical patients on 14 March using the 3D printed valves which cost just $1 each compared to the original valve which costs about $11,000.

Source: IBTimes

This is probably just the tip of the iceberg that 3D printing can be the localized solution amidst global market instability and increased market costs, especially with the limitless potential offered by the technology to solve supply chain issues.

There is a good chance that 3D printing fits your organization, no matter the industry. Leave us a message through a contact form, email at info@creatz3d.com, or call us at +65 6631 8555 to find out more.

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