[UPDATE] 3D printing in a time of coronavirus: the additive response to COVID-19

In the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, innovators are finding novel ways to apply 3D-printed solutions to assist the international response to coronavirus. Keep up with the latest news from the additive manufacturing community with our round-up of relevant updates.

Go to the profile of Georgi Makin
Mar 31, 2020


As the international response to the COVID-19 pandemic escalates, opportunities for intervention from additive manufacturing technologies present themselves. 

In this round-up, 3DMedNet aims to share the stories of innovators applying cross-industry additive knowledge and resources to address challenges associated with managing the response to the pandemic.

Do you have anything you would like to share about the stories included or have a story to share with the medical 3D printing community? Let us know in the comments or email the Editor, at g.makin@3dmednet.com 

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Collaboration 3D prints and validates Formlabs nasal swab kits

A collaborative team formed between The University of South Florida (USF) Health (FL, USA), Tampa General Hospital (FL, USA), Northwell Health (NY, USA) and Formlabs (MA, USA) has announced success in the printing and validation of nasal swabs, fundamental to coronavirus testing kits.

According to the team, validation and rapid clinical testing demonstrated that the 3D-printed nasal swabs perform equally to standard swabs used for testing for COVID-19.

This is a prime example of the incredible impact we can have on human lives when teams of experts across academia, health care delivery and the tech industry come together,” explained Charles Lockwood, Senior Vice President for USF Health and dean of the USF Health Morsani College of Medicine.
During this current COVID-19 outbreak, there is little time for delay, and the swift, agile and adept action of everyone on this effort will greatly improve this nation’s ability to test patients,” Lockwood continued.

>> Find out more about the response from Formlabs in our earlier coverage

Source: https://hscweb3.hsc.usf.edu/blog/2020/03/28/usf-health-northwell-health-tampa-general-hospital-and-formlabs-join-forces-to-create-3d-printed-nasal-swabs-to-test-for-covid-19/

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Siemens launches forum for connecting 3D printing services

Siemens (Belin and Munich, Germany) has published an online forum for professionals and 3D printers to aid the additive response to COVID-19.

On the dedicated COVID-19 page, Siemens have published the details of their partners to enable medical professionals to reach designers and printers worldwide, connected via the Siemens network.

Source: https://additive-manufacturing-network.sws.siemens.com/fight-coronavirus/

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Staff, students and faculty team up to 3D print respirators at UC San Diego

A team of engineers and physicians have rallied at University of California San Diego (UC San Diego; CA, USA) to design and 3D print simple, easy-to-use ventilators.

One of the biggest things we heard was that there weren’t enough ventilators to treat all of the patients coming into the hospitals,” explained James Friend, Professor in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering and the Department of Surgery at UC San Diego. “It’s clear that if we’re not careful, we might end up in the same situation.”

The team reports that the first step was to consult anesthetists and respiratory therapists about minimum requirements for a ventilator. Engineers and physicians were then able to design parts for developing their own ventilators.

As long as the correct materials are used, 3D printing can be used to produce a wide variety of tools in the fight against COVID-19,” added Shaochen Chen, Professor of Nanoengineering at the Jacobs School of Engineering (UC San Diego). “It’s not good for, say, entire N95 masks, but it can be used for producing testing swabs or even face shields for healthcare workers.”

Lonnie Petersen, Assistant Professor in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at UC San Diego, explained that the team are now awaiting parts to complete a design featuring an electric pump:

Our aim is to have functional devices as soon as possible. Once we’ve got the bare bones system up and running, we can start adding layers of sophistication and automation. Those additional layers will include advanced regulation of air pressure and flow to allow for a more disease-specific and patient-tailored respiratory support.”

The next steps will be to develop the design into a more sophisticated ventilator, potentially able to support multiple patients at any one time.

We are preparing for a shortage of both ventilators and specialized staff to run them,” added Petersen. “The questions quickly became ‘How can we tweak the ventilators that are available to support multiple patients? How can we create more ventilators that are easier for staff to use?’”
This is a team effort,” Petersen concluded. “And we can use the assistance of other engineers. We would love to hear from students, staff, and faculty with hands-on engineering experience who can help us with this project.”

Qualified volunteers should email: UCSDVentilatorEngHelp@gmail.com

Source: https://ucsdnews.ucsd.edu/feature/uc-san-diego-engineers-and-doctors-team-up-to-retrofit-and-build-ventilators-with-3d-printing

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Medical University of South Carolina releases plans for 3D-printable masks

As the threat of a shortage of face masks increases, a team of bioengineers from Medical University of South Carolina (SC, USA) has released plans for a 3D-printable protective mask.

The team is currently talking to manufacturers to ascertain whether mass production can commence following approval. The team claims, however, that the simple plans are available to anyone with a 3D printer.

High schools have a printer capable of making this," explained Michael Yost, Vice Chair of Research in the Department of Surgery (Medical University of South Carolina). 
Let's make this so simple that a high schooler could do it, yet effective to protect our people," Yost continued. 
Joshua Kim (Medical University of South Carolina) demonstrating how the filter cartridge can be adapted to fit onto existing masks.
Joshua Kim (Medical University of South Carolina) demonstrating how the filter cartridge can be adapted to fit onto existing masks. Credit: Sarah Pack (Medical University of South Carolina)

Source: https://web.musc.edu/about/news-center/2020/03/26/3d-printed-masks-developed-at-medical-university-of-south-carolina

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US FDA grants emergency-use authorization for 3D-printed ventilator component

Prisma Health (SC, USA) has announced that their 3D-printed ventilator components have received US FDA authorization for emergency use.

The device, called ‘VESper™’, is described as a ‘unique’ ventilator adaptor that can allow for up to four patients to use a single ventilator. As the demand for ventilators increases as the COVID-19 pandemic develops, the splitters could be instrumental in managing a shortage of equipment.

When we see rapid increases in patients who require machine-assisted breathing, an acute shortage of necessary equipment can happen overnight,” explained Peter Tilkemeier, Chair of the Department of Medicine at Prisma Health-Upstate.
The VESper™ device can be lifesaving when the number of critically ill patients requiring breathing support is greater than the number of available ventilators. A number of US hospitals are likely to begin experiencing this with COVID-19,” Tilkemeier continued.
Immediately, we realized we had an opportunity to impact patient outcomes all over the country, and potentially beyond the US,” added Marjorie Jenkins, Chief Academic Officer for Prisma Health–Upstate and dean of the University of South Carolina School of Medicine Greenville (SC, USA).
What we needed was a collaborative team to put the plan in motion and close the loop between design, production, FDA approval and distribution to hospitals with critical need,” Jenkins continued.
VESper device
VESper device, available via: www.multivu.com/players/Englis... 
This is an exemplary demonstration of rapid innovation and collaboration,” commented Mark O’Halla, President and CEO of Prisma Health.
I am so proud of the creativity and perseverance of our clinical team who came together to develop a potentially life-saving solution at a critical time for our country, our communities and our patients. We are anxiously awaiting the results of the prototype field tests,” O’Halla concluded.

Hospitals can begin to apply to receive the free source code and printing specifications for the device today by registering on Prisma Health’s website: www.prismahealth.org/VESper

Source: www.multivu.com/players/English/8708651-prisma-health-vesper-ventilator-expansion-device-covid-19/

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MHRA allows special exemptions from device regulations during COVID-19 outbreak

The UK MHRA has announced that non-CE marked medical devices may be approved for use under special measures from the regulatory agency.

In a statement outlined on the MHRA website, the MHRA claims that it may authorize the supply of a non-CE marked device in the ‘interest of the protection of health’, under regulations 12(5), 26(3) and 39(2) of the Medical Devices Regulations 2002.

Applications are currently being accepted for ventilators through the Department of Health and Social Care, as well as for other devices including surgical (medical) face masks, examination or surgical gloves, directly through the MHRA.

Find out more via the website at: www.gov.uk/guidance/exemptions-from-devices-regulations-during-the-coronavirus-covid-19-outbreak

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HP utilizes global community for 3D printing critical parts

HP Inc (CA, USA) and its global partners have announced the mobilization of digital manufactures around the world to deliver crucial parts in the battle against COVID-19.

More than 1000 3D-printed parts have reportedly already been delivered to hospitals in Barcelona (Spain), Corvallis (OR, USA), San Diego (CA, USA) and Vancouver (WA, USA).

Initially, HP Inc focuses on validating face masks, face shield, mask adjusters, nasal swabs, hands-free door openers and respirator parts.

HP and our digital manufacturing partners are working non-stop in the battle against this unprecedented virus. We are collaborating across borders and industries to identify the parts most in need, validate the designs and begin 3D printing them,” explained Enrique Lores, President and CEO of HP Inc.
Our deepest appreciation goes to our employees, partners, customers and members of our community for their tireless efforts to support the medical professionals making a difference on the front lines,” Lores added.

FFP3 mask
Example of FFP3 mask developed by Czech Technical University (Prague, Czech Republic), with HP Mutli Jet Fusion 3D printing technology. This mask is still undergoing validation for production. Credit: Czech Technical University, available via HP Inc website

Source: https://press.ext.hp.com/us/en/press-releases/2020/hp-inc--and-partners-mobilize-3d-printing-solutions--to-battle-c.html

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Axial3D publishes open letter to encourage network and community response to COVID-19

In an open letter published on the Axial3D (Belfast, UK) website, Roger Johnston, CEO, invites the medical community to contact Axial3D and its founders directly to share information about any COVID-19 related initiatives requiring 3D-printed parts, or if anyone has access to 3D printers who may be able to help Axial3D in their response.

At present, the Axial3D team are validating designs and prototyping 3D-printed test kits, swabs, masks and ventilators.

Axial3D 3D-printed parts
Axial3D are 3D printing prototypes, validating critical parts for production. Photos courtesy of Axial3D.

Source: www.axial3d.com/blog/axial3ds-response-to-the-covid-19-pandemic/

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3D LifePrints releases 3D-printable ‘distancer’ to reduce in-hospital contamination

In an effort to prevent contamination in hospitals, 3D LifePrints (Liverpool, UK) has developed and released the designs for a 3D-printable ‘distancer’ for hospital workers, in collaboration with Alder Hey Children’s Hospital (Liverpool, UK).

Innovation can be simple yet effective. A hospital-based medical professional in their daily movements can pass through over 100 doors. Each door or ID access point can be a potential source of viral or bacterial contamination,” Paul Fotheringham, Founder and CTO of 3D LifePrints explained.
3D LifePrints in conjunction with Alder Hey NHS Foundation have designed and made 3D printable a low-cost device that has the following features: can hang off a keychain or lanyard, slide insert for the user's electronic ID card, visible for staff identification, handle to enable the user to not touch the actual card or reader, hook to enable the user to open a door, flat end for pushing with recess for protruding buttons,” Fotheringham concluded.
‘The Distancer’ from 3D LifePrints
‘The Distancer’ from 3D LifePrints. Photo courtesy of 3D LifePrints.

Source: www.3dlifeprints.com

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Prusa prints face screens amidst respirator regulation debate

While there remains a little uncertainty around the responsible, regulated 3D printing of respirator and ventilator parts, Josef Průša of Prusa Research (Prague, Czech Republic) has described the process of designing, printing and verifying face shields in a recent blog post.

As Prusa describes the designs for the face screen and other projects that are currently in progress, he also highlights the safety, sterilization and verification of the shields, reminding the community to check professional standards before 3D printing parts for clinical use.

The designs for the face screen and other objects are available via the full blog post.

Source: https://blog.prusaprinters.org/from-design-to-mass-3d-printing-of-medical-shields-in-three-days/

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Formlabs publishes online form to convene 3D printing community with medical supplies demand

In a new online form on the Formlabs (MA, USA) website, the company is calling for anyone working on coronavirus-related projects or willing to volunteer themselves and their Formlabs equipment to join the 750+ volunteers who have already registered via the Formlabs website.

In a statement preceding the form, Formlabs has announced four main focus areas, including test kit swabs, snorkel mask conversion kits, ventilator splitters and face shields.

Find out more and register your interest in collaboration via the Formlabs website.

Source: https://formlabs.com/uk/covid-19-response/

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3D-printed face screen production ramped up by Stratasys

[UPDATE] After publishing the initial story, Stratasys has since announced the launch of a collaboration with over 150 partners to 3D print 11,000 and then 16,000 face masks per week. Find out more, here.

Stratasys (MN, USA) has announced a ‘global mobilization’ of the company’s resources and expertise to 3D print face shields and PPE for healthcare workers.

Stratasys aims to have 3D printed 5,000 face shields by Friday 27 March at no cost to the recipients.

Should any 3D printing shop in the USA want to be involved in this initiative, Stratasys have included more information and an online form for finding out more. Full instructions for printing and assembling the shields are available via the website.

Stratasys 3D-printed face screen
Stratasys and its partners are producing several thousand face shields with 3D-printed plastic frames. (Photo: Business Wire)
We are humbled by the opportunity to help. We see additive manufacturing as an essential part of the response to the COVID-19 global epidemic,” explained Stratasys CEO Yoav Zeif.
The strengths of 3D printing – be anywhere, print virtually anything, adapt on the fly – make it a capability for helping address shortages of parts related to shields, masks, and ventilators, among other things. Our workforce and partners are prepared to work around the clock to meet the need for 3D printers, materials, including biocompatible materials, and 3D-printed parts,” Zeif concluded.

Sources: https://investors.stratasys.com/news-events/press-releases/detail/524/stratasys-responds-to-covid-19-pandemic-by-ramping-uphttps://investors.stratasys.com/news-events/press-releases/detail/526/correcting-and-replacingstratasys-coalition-for-face

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3D-printed valves supply unmanageable demand for essential ventilator equipment

In one story gracing international headlines, a small team from Northern Italy has assisted health workers struggling with limited supplies of ventilator valves by quickly designing and 3D printing replacement parts.

Posting about this success on Facebook (translated from Italian), Massimo Temporelli (The FabLab; Milan, Italy) explained how supplies of the valve were depleting in a local hospital managing many COVID-19 cases, at a rate faster than what the manufacturer could feasibly supply.

Temporelli was reportedly initially contacted by a reporter, asking if it would be technically possible to 3D print the valve to keep up with the increasing demand at the local hospital.

After a few hours and many phone calls later, Cristian Fracassi of Isinonnova arrived at the hospital with a 3D printer and a design for a substitute valve, ready to print as many valves as required to meet the demand.

Since this relatively small but immediate intervention, another local additive manufacturing company, Lonati SpA, has reported that based on Fracassi’s design, team members Michele Faini and Marco Gavazzi (pictured above) have been able to amplify production efforts to further meet increasing demand and pressure, confirming that ‘many’ patients are now using the 3D-printed devices.

3D-printed valves from Lonati SpA.
3D-printed valves from Lonati SpA.

Since this story broke, there have been calls from the Government in the UK for manufacturers to switch focus on the development of more ventilators – could the 3D printing community be in a prime position to help industry deliver in the rapid production of essential medical equipment in response to the COVID-19 pandemic?

As the UK Government calls upon engineering firms to switch some of their manufacturing output to the production of new ventilators to help tackle the coronavirus health crisis, I have brought together a consortium of industry leaders and academics from across the UK who are all looking into ways that we can support the production of parts for ventilators during these unprecedented times. 3D printing technologies can allow us to produce parts very quickly,” explained Kadine James, Creative Tech Lead at Hobs 3D (London, UK)
We will also be hosting a Global Call with University College London (UK) on 19 March 2020,” James continued.

However, there is still some uncertainty surrounding the capability and safety of sharing STL files with hospitals and independent ‘printers’ for mass production. Outside of conflicts relating to copyright and patent law, the regulatory burden for in situ emergency 3D printing for devices use in life-critical scenarios is certainly questionable.

Sources: www.facebook.com/massimo.temporelli/posts/10219716100146800www.lonati.com/en/news-e-eventi/3D-printed-valves-Lonati-printer

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A unique solution for ‘containment’: Materialise releases minimum-contact door handle

As experts believe that corona virus can survive on surfaces for an extended time, Materialise (Leuven, Belgium) has announced the release of a freely-downloadable file for a 3D-printed door handle extension which minimizes direct contact with potentially contaminated surfaces.

The power of 3D printing in combination with Materialise’s 3 decades of 3D printing expertise made it possible to turn an idea into an innovative product in less than 24 hours,” explained Fried Vancraen, CEO of Materialise.

By making the design available digitally, it can be produced on 3D printers everywhere and become available around the world in a matter of hours. In this case, we designed the product in Belgium and people in China, Europe or the US can now 3D print the door opener locally,” Vancraen concluded.

Materialise door handle
Materialise door handle, available via: www.materialise.com/en/press-r... 

The file can be downloaded at www.materialise.com/en/hands-free-door-opener

Source: www.materialise.com/en/press-releases/3d-printing-technology-supports-coronavirus-containment-efforts

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Collaborative team solves PPE shortage issue: 3D-printed facemasks and PPE for healthcare workers in Hong Kong

A collaborative team from The Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Queen Elizabeth Hospital and the Hospital Authority (all Hong Kong) has reported success in developing effective, 3D-printed eye shields and face shields.

During the coronavirus outbreak, solidarity is one of the essential elements to battle the disease. The partnership between The Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Queen Elizabeth Hospital/Hospital Authority and the industry is a good example that embodies the spirit of 'when one place suffers, aid comes from all sides'. We join hands to overcome these difficult times together," explained Professor Alexander WAI Ping-kong, Vice President (Research Development), Deputy President and Provost designate at The Hong Kong Polytechnic University.

In a statement released from The Hong Kong Polytechnic University, the team reports that it took only a fortnight to design and develop the masks, of which they hope to 3D print over 30,000 per day by the end of March.

3D-printed face screens
(from left) Prof HC Man, Prof. Alexander WAI Ping-kong and Ms YUEN Woon Wah of Hospital Authority reveal the new 3D-printed face shield. Available via: www.polyu.edu.hk/media/media-r... 

Source: www.polyu.edu.hk/media/media-releases/2020/0225_polyu-designs-a-new-3d-printed-face-shield-for-ha/

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When industries unite: how 3D-printed ‘huts’ serve as emergency quarantine wards

At the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak in February, architectural company Yingchuang Building Technique (Winsun; Shanghai, China), reported that several 3D-printed huts were printed, loaded and sent to various hospitals needing fast solutions in response to increasing pressure for quarantine facilities. 

According to reports hosted on the Winsun website, 20 3D printers could produce a 10x10 ward each within 2 hours from recycled construction materials, offering a fast and sustainable solution to expanding quarantine capabilities in high-incidence areas.

Winsun further explains that following the use of these small hut-like buildings for the immediate quarantine pressure, the buildings could be further used for news kiosks, small shops or mobile offices.

3D-printed quarantine wards in transit
3D-printed quarantine wards in transit, available via: www.winsun3d.com/En/News/news_...

Sources: www.winsun3d.com/En/News/news_inner/id/541; www.winsun3d.com/En/News/news_inner/id/542

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Go to the profile of Georgi Makin

Georgi Makin

Senior Editor, 3DMedNet, Future Science Group

I am the Senior Editor of 3DMedNet, so please do not hesitate to get in touch should you have any queries or comments. You can also follow me on Twitter for the latest updates: @GeorgiMakin

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