Using 3D Printing to Fight Against Coronavirus

News from the 3D printing industry | Last updated: 31 March 2020

The fight against the recent outbreak of the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) continues as the global death toll reached 37,000 and the number of confirmed cases exceeded 790,000 in March. As health professionals continue to help the infected patients, the 3D printing industry is also collaborating with different parties to facilitate the containment of Covid-19.

PolyU 3D printed face shields for health professionals

As health professionals work at the front-line against Covid-19, they must protect themselves by wearing surgical masks and applying alcohol for sterilization. However, medical supplies have run short as the number of confirmed cases continue to rise.

To support them, the 3D printing lab of The Hong Kong Polytechnic University worked with local manufacturers and initially printed 10,000 face shields that were delivered to the Hospital Authority. Due to the flexibility of 3D printing, the lab was able to rapidly alter the design of face shield based on the doctors’ feedback. These face shields are composed of a 3D-printed frame and a plastic covering. Health professionals can wear them over the surgical masks to protect themselves from bodily fluids, which can be a source of infection.

Soon, the technology would be transferred to the industry to increase productivity. It is said that they would be able to produce up to 30,000 face shields per day by the end of March.

3D printed isolation houses for quarantine

The use of 3D printing in the construction sector is nothing new as evidenced by New Story, a housing nonprofit that works with different organizations to 3D print a neighborhood in Mexico.

Recently, a Chinese construction enterprise named Winsun also used 3D printing to build isolation houses, each with proper showers, air conditioning, and toilets, to accommodate infected patients and medical staff. This certainly relieved the overloaded hospitals as they had faced severe shortages since Covid-19 started to spread.

As 3D printing is much faster and environmentally friendlier than traditional methods, Winsun was able to 3D print the walls of 15 wards within 24 hours. Layers of recyclable materials, such as sand and construction rubble, were deposited by the giant 3D printer and hardened fast enough to ensure stability. The enterprise aimed to construct another 200 houses as the demand for more rooms continued to increase.

3D printed PPE available for production and downlaod

Personal Protective Equipment is in great demand in not only the healthcare industries but also other key industries, such as food, retail, etc, since it provides another layer of protection for employees in these industries to operate.

To support the community, Spare Parts 3D has designed its own face shields optimized for different 3D printing technologies, such as fused deposition modeling(FDM) and power bed fusion technologies (SLS,MJF, etc). For those with 3D printing capability, they can download the designs directly here to produce them.

Aside from that, Spare Parts 3D also offers production of 3D printed PPE at cost to ensure that key industries will have the necessary resources to operate without compromising their well-being.

3D printed respiratory valves helping infected patients breathe

Italy has the highest number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Europe, putting much pressure on the local healthcare system. Infected patients with severe symptoms have to rely on respiratory machines to breathe as their respiratory systems are damaged by the coronavirus. Unfortunately, hospitals in Italy run short on respiratory valves, a key component connected to the machines, as the suppliers are also having a hard time to meet the unprecedented demand for medical devices.

Isinnova, an Italian start-up, decided to reverse engineer the design of these valves to deal with this emergency. They were able to do this within hours and provide the first batch for local hospitals to save the infected patients.

In situations that require fast response time, 3D printing can certainly be utilized to maximize the overall value as shown in the news above. Engineers in different industries have adopted 3D printing since it enables them to have more complex and flexible design processes, shorten the production time, and produce products that are as good as or even better than those produced by traditional manufacturing processes.