Coronavirus or COVID-19 affects all parts of our lives on a global scale. As supply chains got disrupted, combined with a sharp increase in demand, hospitals are getting to the point when vital functional and protective equipment are not available in time. We are witnessing how 3D printing manufacturers and community members come to rescue, with a new case story every day. In this article, we will mention a few examples and ongoing initiatives when 3D printing is doing its best to help to get through these dire times.
PLEASE NOTE: In case of 3D printing medical equipment parts or PPE (Personal Protective Equipment), particular quality standards have to be met. Especially concerning the plastic parts, appropriate materials and printing techniques are to be used and approved. It may take time to test and certify the piece of equipment before it can get into production.
3D Printed Ventilator Valves
The first real-case story when 3D printing saved lives of many patients in intensive care, took place in Italy. The valves for respiratory ventilators were 3D printed by a local specialist at the hospital premises. Read more 3D Printing Media.
Medical Face Shields
These are the vital PPE items that can be produced by 3D printing professionals and even enthusiasts. Joseph Prusa, Founder of Prusa Research in Czech Republic, started to 3D print face shields after the consultation with the Ministry of Health. Tests have been run in the local hospitals getting ready for mass production. See the updated story from the original source Prusa Research blog.
Adrian Bowyer, the father of the RepRap project (3D print a 3D printer), started an initiative to develop Open-source Oxygen Concentrator. As everyone focus at ventilators, RepRap Ltd. tries to develop a concentrator and a generator of oxygen for them.
3D vs Covid-19 – Collection
There is a big collection on Cults3d which is associated with COVID-19. It consists of a large variety of free 3D printable files, from soap holders to face shields. Although this collection may give some inspiring ideas and even short-term solutions, we strongly recommend to be cautious as of false PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) may do more harm than good.
Ventilator and Other Design Competitions
There are a few competitions announced that aim to develop affordable ventilators to help to survive coronavirus. Ventilator Challenge by coventchallenge.com was one, another was Montreal Hospitals Challenge with CAD $200k prize for low-cost ventilators design. Please check our list of 3D printing competitions for the updates on the subject.
Groups on Social Media
If you are active on social media, then there is a facebook group where discussions take place and members are looking for solutions.
Crowdsource Repair Information for Hospital Equipment
Another useful initiative aims to fix hospital equipment instead of stop using it. The detailed instructions are posted on ifixit.com.
Read More: 3D Printing in Medicine
3D printing in medicine is becoming widely adopted due to the technology advancement. The ability to customize and produce test models makes 3D printing invaluable in surgery planning, dentistry, and prosthetics, for example. There are more sophisticated applications of this technology that medical professionals are starting to explore. What used to be the work of imagination, nowadays gets implemented in practice.