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3D printers help alleviate supply shortages in wake of COVID-19

(WCAX)
Published: Apr. 17, 2020 at 3:33 PM EDT
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As the nation ramps up testing for the novel coronavirus, there are concerns about shortages of the materials needed to perform tests and protect health care workers. 3D printers are being used around the country, from large companies to in-home operations, to keep critical supplies stocked to fight the pandemic.

The nasal swabs needed for the coronavirus tests are in high demand. Dr. Todd Goldstein, the director of design and innovation at Northwell Health in New York, says his team is using 3D printers to produce 2,000-3,000 each day.

"We looked at how it works, what it does and then we figured out a way to produce it on our technology," he said.

Goldstein's lab is also working on face shields and adapters needed for medical devices.

"Every day I am getting another request for a plastic piece that everyone wants at the same time. We’re working with CPAP machines, BiPAP machines, ventilators," Goldstein said.

In Alabama, Boeing employees are producing reusable 3D-printed face shields with 2,300 delivered earlier this week.

"We've got a special product here to help take care of the men and women out there in the medical industry, keeping them safe. If we can do our part to keep them safe then that's good enough for us," said Sean Thuston, a machinist at Boeing Research & Technology.

A benefit of 3D printing is that researchers can print the materials and deliver the supplies to their clinics right away, avoiding supply chain and shipping issues.

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