3D Printing May Help Save the Healthcare System

Many companies race to keep up with the demands for healthcare PPE and equipment, and they’re using a once-futuristic technology: 3D printing.

The COVID-19 pandemic has meant desperate times for healthcare workers and medical centers across the country—especially in areas hard hit by the virus. While hospitals and healthcare workers struggle to find enough protective equipment—like masks, face shields, respirators and more—other industries have really struggled. Workers in nursing homes, post offices, Amazon warehouses and more are also struggling.

While the Trump administration is trying to boost its production of equipment across seas, a coalition of companies has pursued another solution to the problem: 3D printers.

Just this week, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) airlifted millions of gloves, 130,000 N95 masks, 1.7 million surgical masks” and more into New York to help healthcare facilities. Twenty-two similar shipments will occur over the next few weeks and deliver supplies to locations across the country.

It is somewhat uplifting to see how many groups are working to help supply healthcare workers with what they need, and 3D printing has proven incredibly valuable. According to one Forbes article, here are some of the 3D printing operations making the biggest impact—and how you can help.

Among some of the biggest contributors are: HP Printing, Portland 3D Printing Lab Facebook Group, Artisan’s Asylum, NIH 3D Print Exchange and others.

The Open Source COVID19 Medical Supplies (OSCMS) group has a 12-page document that summarizes the current state of COVID-19, risks with community-based designs, safety, and other concerns for the open source effort. OSCMS also links to this Design That Matters Face Shield document in partnership with Spark Health Design, loaded with relevant references for product requirements, regulatory and human factors for PPE models and more.

While times are uncertain and stressful right now, people are helping people and technology like 3D printing is helping to save lives.

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