While the COVID-19 pandemic is causing chaotic scenarios on a global scale, it is leaving our healthcare institutions and hospitals running short on mechanical respirators, ventilators, and protective equipment.
This has prompted the additive manufacturing industry to finally come into the picture and provide much-needed help in a desperate attempt to address the impending crisis for this lifesaving equipment.
As of this writing, 3D printing efforts have begun in the major corners of the globe. Everyone is encouraged to provide the help they could offer, from large scale operations down to the individual 3D printer hobbyist.
Bringing to Life the Respirators for COVID-19 Patients
A good number of private and government-owned hospitals are taking charge of rousing private individuals and groups who own 3D printers to fire up their equipment for this purpose.
Like for instance, we have this group of anesthesiologists face up to the scarcity of ventilating machines at the Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. To help them surmount this hurdle, they launched an online challenge, instead.
They called their online campaign “The CoVent-19 Challenge”. It is an 8-week open-innovation challenge intended for designers, innovators, engineers, and makers. The goal of the project is to create easy and readily deployable signs that can be used practically for 2 devices. But details of which yet to be released by them.
What the project is trying to aim for is to mobilize people from all over to come up with teams and wrap up their device designs before the end of June of 2020 comes, before getting validated and scaled up mass production to address hospital shortages.
The hospital was vocal in expressing their support to the participants and will do so by providing them their technical and medical panels to help and guide them in their design layouts.
When you think of respirator machines, you also need to think about their small components which are a bit expensive, the reason why they are not kept on shelves. They are only manufactured when they’re needed, or if there is a high demand for it like now.
Can We Utilize 3D Printing for Making Masks, Gowns, and Other Types of Personal Protective Equipment or PPEs?
When you talk about PPE, this would include protective gowns, clothing, face shields, gloves, face masks, goggles, and respirators. Anything qualified to help in keeping the wearer safe and protected against any kind of injury or the spread of illness or infection.
While taking advantage of 3-dimensional printing in the production of certain kinds of PPEs is highly possible, one needs to be aware about the manifold of technical challenges. You need to surmount them first otherwise it will not be effective enough or will fall short of expectations.
For instance, if you make use of a 3D printed PPE, it may work great in providing you with physical barrier but may not be exceptionally good when it comes to giving air and liquid barrier and filtration protection in much the same way as to how the N95 respirators and masks were cleared by the FDA.