May 30, 2020

Opinion: Covid-19 and 3D printing

By: Aaamir Mukhtar*

With Covid-19, the increase in number of patients requiring hospital treatment, healthcare providers worldwide are experiencing critical shortages in necessary equipment such as ventilators and personal protective equipment.

3D printing, which has already been used in the medical field from creating affordable prosthetics to surgical tools, could be vital to produce parts for ventilators and hospital kit.

During Covid-19 lockdown, RAM3D (a Tauranga-based metal 3D printing company) has been printing bridge parts for an anaesthesia machine that was being converted to an intensive care ventilator. The successful bridges have been printed in Titanium 64 (medical grade alloy).

Ventilator Adapter
Ventilator Adapter (Photo courtesy: RAM3D/supplied)

Patients with Covid-19 at the Chiari hospital in Italy, were able to breathe comfortably with replaced 3D printed valves (which assist to mix oxygen with air) for crucial respiratory machines.

Three of Europe’s major engineering companies (Meggitt, Renishaw and Thales) have produced basic ventilators to assist the National Health Service.

America Makes, reported that it is partnering with the Food and Drug Administration to ensure the 3D printing industry can successfully meet the needs of the US healthcare workers working to combat coronavirus.

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Mobility Goes Additive, a German network focused on the acceleration of 3D printed parts within transport, issued a call to its partners in reply to the European Commission’s call to the wider manufacturing industry.

Siemens, has opened its platform free of charge to all companies requiring medical device design or manufacturing services, allowing the healthcare sector and its providers to reach designers and manufacturers worldwide for on-demand solutions.

Formlabs launched a support network, connecting accessible manufacturers to projects in demand of production.

According to some reports, 3D-printed materials, in the future, may significantly lower health care costs by providing patients with cost-effective organs,implants and other medical devices.

*Dr Aamir Mukhtar Mukhtar, who holds a PhD in Materials Science, is a Research Engineer in a titanium research and support provider at Tauranga.


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