With the COVID-19 pandemic affecting businesses, communities and people throughout the world, healthcare workers struggle to get what they need to man the front-lines of the fight. As patients flood hospitals in desperate need of help, the demand for Personal Protective Equipment for healthcare workers and other critical supplies is far outpacing what the current supply chain can handle.
With great challenges we often see communities come together in new ways to overcome hardships. When 3D printing-enthusiasts became aware of the supply shortages happening due to COVID-19, they stepped up in a life-saving way.
Harnessing the power of 3D printing, individuals, companies and organizations from all over the world are using their resources to create much-needed masks, face shields, test-kit swabs and ventilators for hospitals in need. These efforts are providing hospitals the PPE they rely on to safely treat patients as well as the life-saving devices needed to combat the virus.
This is nothing new for the creatives and makers in the 3D printing world. They have always been ones to face old problems with a new approach and step in when traditional methods are failing. Their combined efforts bring a glimmer of hope to an otherwise bleak situation and serve as a powerful reminder that innovation is often born when our backs are up against the wall.
Here is just some of the amazing work we’re seeing those in the additive manufacturing community take on to support the fight against COVID-19.
For one North Carolina man, he’s been able to use his 3D printing hobby as a way to produce much-needed face shields for healthcare workers. In one day, Mike Lairson can print about 10 face shields which he gives freely to those who request.
In South Carolina, one company has found a way to 3D print a device that increases a ventilator’s capacity to accommodate up to four patients. This would ease the strain put on hospitals trying to treat every patient with their limited supplies.
MUSC, the Medical University of South Carolina, has shared their mask and filter assembly part designs with people willing to help print these needed pieces. Companies like ours along with others have already begun 3D printing these designs to donate to healthcare workers in need!
Even sports organizations are finding unique ways to help during this crisis. NASCAR's Research & Technology center usually uses its 3D printers to make composite parts for cars. Now, however, its five 3D printers are running almost non-stop to print face shields for healthcare workers.
To address the lack of COVID-19 test kits available, Markforged, a Massachusetts-based company, has begun experimenting with ways to 3D print special test swabs that could be printed within hours. If successful, this would make test kits more readily available to hospitals.
While these are just some of the many stories of people coming together to use their skills for good during this time of need, it's inspiring to see what the 3D community is doing to help!