Q & M leverages on 3D Printed Manikin to train COVID-19 swabbers

“Our focus was to find models with a cross-sectional view of the nose area, so that we could teach learners about specific anatomical landmarks and what to watch out for while swabbing. We wanted a model that could let us explain procedures effortlessly to a non-medical trained person.”


Joseph Lua, an associate at Q & M Dental Group.

With swab testing now part of the new road map as COVID-19 in Singapore transitions from a pandemic to an endemic, how can someone that is non-medical trained learn the proper swabbing technique effectively and quickly?

That’s when Q & M Dental Group engaged Creatz3D, a Singapore 3D printing solutions provider, to produce 3D Printed Mankins to raise the bar of learning and accelerate understanding. Q & M had done a review of some manikins from their online search. However, they were not life-sized, lacked notable anatomical features, and weren’t suitable as a tactile tool for teaching swabbing procedures.

The turning point came after their search led them to the personalized life-sized 3D Printed Medical Manikin developed by Creatz3D which matched exactly what they were looking for. The manikin had proof of adoption by a local healthcare establishment for swabbing training in 2020, and came from a collaborative effort with their subsidiary, AuMed, a bespoke medical simulator company.

Click this link to learn more or purchase the 3D Printed Manikin.


The manikin was designed with a cross-sectional view to understand the anatomy better when practicing with a medical-grade swab test stick. By incorporating four different materials and four different colors, the 3D printed manikin provided distinct simulation and differentiation of soft tissues for tactile feedback.

In making the original manikin, AuMed was challenged by the lack of CT & MRI DICOM data for the design coupled with a tight deadline.

However with their accumulated expertise in working with the healthcare sector, the AuMed team managed to seek out different anatomical 3D models derived from their own CT and MRI library before fusing them to form a hybrid human head.

Instead of months to produce the manikin with traditional manufacturing, the 3D printed manikin was produced in one print with drastically reduced lead time – 5 working days of 3D printing, including CAD designing and post-processing.

Swabbing Training with 3D Printed Manikin.
Swabbing Training with 3D Printed Manikin.


After having hands-on with the manikin in training, Q & M looked to personalize the manikin further to take trainees’ understanding of the swabbing procedures to the next level, indirect improving the overall learning experience of the trainees. A couple of iterations were thus proposed and then subsequently implemented.

This personalized approach illustrated the flexibility and adaptability of multi-material 3D printing in adapting quickly to customers’ requirements.

Mr. Joseph Lua assisting Dr. Raymond Ang in demonstrating the swabbing procedure with the 3D Printed Manikin.
Mr. Joseph Lua assisting Dr. Raymond Ang in demonstrating the swabbing procedure with the 3D Printed Manikin.


When Singapore went into a Circuit Breaker in April 2020, Q & M was among the first to swap dental probes for nose swabs. More than 120 dentists and staff administered nasopharyngeal swabs at foreign worker dormitories, government quarantine facilities, and hotels in aid of the country’s COVID-19 detection efforts.

This act of going above and beyond during the trying times led to the private dental healthcare group being awarded the President’s Volunteerism & Philanthropy Award by the City of Good.

Through the experience gained during the swabbing stint, Q & M provided several valuable insights into improving the swabbing workflow, which led to greater efficiency, safety and standardization. The Health Promotion Board (HPB) also recognized Q & M’s pioneering efforts towards swabbing training, incorporating several insights as part of their standard swabbing protocols in training their first batch of non-medically trained swabbers.

In order to meet the nation’s heightened demand for swabbers to aid the continued needs for COVID-19 screening and detection, Q & M is offering a swabbing proficiency and swab site operations course through the Q & M College of Dentistry to train non-medical professionals to be proficient in all swabbing techniques, swab site work-flow and operations and other special tests such as Antigen Rapid Tests and Antibody serology tests.

After training completion, participants would have adequate confidence to perform all types of swabbing procedures, infection prevention and control procedures, as well as having a full understanding about swab site operations, if they decide to pursue a swabbing career.

Dr. Raymond teaching swabbing techniques with 3D Printed Manikin.
Dr. Raymond teaching swabbing techniques with 3D Printed Manikin.

For medical personnel, learning swabbing techniques would be much easier due to their knowledge of the craniofacial anatomy. However this is not the case for non-medical personnel who does not have prior anatomical or medical knowledge.

This led to Q & M seeking out anatomically accurate training models that would complement the training of non-medical personnel in essential swabbing procedures such as Anterior Nares swab, Nasopharyngeal swab, and Oropharyngeal mid-turbinate swab.


In a training session with the manikin, trainees could better understand how the nose/nasal cavity is exactly structured and discover possible resistance points which may be commonly encountered while performing a swab.

The life-scale feature allowed the discovery of the exact swabbing techniques and the depth needed to acquire a satisfactory swabbing sample. The 3D manikin model which was used for hands-on swabbing practice for the trainees, culminated in greater discussions and understanding of anatomical positions and the swabbing procedure.

Doing swabbing training with the 3D Printed Manikin (Credit: Q & M Facebook).
Doing swabbing training with the 3D Printed Manikin (Credit: Q & M Facebook).

“It has been great working with Creatz3D. We provided information regarding our specifications and our requirements were quickly acknowledged by the sales team. They were highly responsive whenever we had questions, and there was no beating around the bush,” concluded Joseph.

Supplemented by the manikin as a training aid, Q & M College’s COVID-19 Swabbing Proficiency Course (pending SkillsFuture-accreditation) lets you re-create the best in-person learning experience. The course is led by experienced medical professionals who understand the importance of building empathy through their patient-focused interactions.

3D printing has undoubtedly proved itself to be a shining star during this COVID-19 pandemic, with its ability to deliver in a short period from design to CAD to the production of essential medical supplies.

The manikin is available for purchase now. Click this link to find out how.

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