The 3D printing industry is accelerating efforts to combat the new corona virus and the COVID-19 disease it causes.
On Tuesday, HP announced that it was working with those who bought its 3D printers to make medical face shields, hands-free door openers, and a face mask regulator for medical personnel who often have to wear them for hours. In addition, hospital-quality face masks that meet the high-end FFP3 (Filtering Facial Piece) standard are tested, as well as parts for simple emergency fans. And they’re looking for nasal swabs to test for COVID-19 infection. HP also offers free downloads of its 3D printed designs for medical devices.
Carbon, a startup whose 3D printers are used to manufacture bicycle seats and tooth cleaners, plans to send face shield designs to its customer network that bought its 3D printers. Carbon’s co-founder and CEO, Joseph DeSimone, said Monday the company expects to ship the designs by early Tuesday.
3D printer manufacturers typically sell their products to others who actually do 3D printing. One such customer, Ford, said Tuesday he made 1,000 face shields and delivered them to Michigan hospitals with plans to make 100,000 face shields per week. The company also works with 3M and General Electric on masks for respirators and fan designs.
Carbon is also working on nose swab designs that can be used to collect samples to test for COVID-19. Although hospitals are testing their samples, these efforts are earlier, said DeSimone, who handed Ellen Kullman the role of carbon chairman in 2019.
The effort is one of several to use 3D printing technology to combat the corona virus. 3D printing, also known as additive manufacturing, cannot turn off products as quickly as conventional mass production methods. However, 3D printers are flexible and can produce many different parts wherever there is a printer and raw materials such as plastic resins that use carbon printers.
“In many ways, this is our time for additive manufacturing,” DeSimone said in a web conference with customers of carbon 3D printers. “If earthquakes, hurricanes or pandemics disrupt the supply chains …… the distributed production will shine.”
Some 3D printers have focused on fans, a type of medical device that is expected to fail in a wave of COVID-19 patients with breathing problems. In short, there are also N95 masks that can be useful to reduce the likelihood that one wearer will transmit COVID-19 to others.
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