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The Other Side: 3D Printing for Medical Equipment: Stat

A 21st century tool to help take on the 21st century virus. And if you have capacity, you can help.


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For medical professionals to do their jobs dealing with COVID-19 patients, they need equipment now.

And the folks at Stratasys, which is a major producer of additive manufacturing (a.k.a., 3D printing) technology recognize that. And they are bringing that tech to bear on helping produce face shields that are used in hospitals.

3D printed medical mask

Medical face masks being produced with 3D printed frames. (Image: Stratasys)


They have mobilized the Stratasys resources—which also includes GrabCAD, Stratasys Direct Manufacturing (which has facilities in Eden Prairie, Minnesota; greater Austin, Texas; and Valencia, California), and its partner network—to produce frames for disposable face shields.

The announcement of this initiative was announced on Sunday, March 22. They plan to have produced 5,000 by Friday, March 27.

And they expect to scale faster to produce even more.

Stratasys is working with medical equipment firm Medtronic and the Dunwoody College of Technology for support for the plastic shield material.


If You’re Not Familiar With the Tech

One of the remarkable things about 3D printing is that it doesn’t require tooling: provide the program, load the materials, and the system will additively produce whatever is needed. While the process may be slower than injection molding, not if you take into account the fact that injection molding requires tooling, so by the time you have the tooling made, there are parts printed. While the injection molding machine will outproduce the printer once the tooling is in place, should there be a necessary change to the design of the part for which the tooling has been made, then it is another wait for more tooling, while the printer gets a new program.


Yoav Zeif, Stratasys CEO, said, “We are humbled by the opportunity to help. We see additive manufacturing as an essential part of the response to the COVID-19 global epidemic. The strengths of 3D printing – be anywhere, print virtually anything, adapt on the fly – make it a capability for helping address shortages of parts related to shields, masks, and ventilators, among other things. Our workforce and partners are prepared to work around the clock to meet the need for 3D printers, materials, including biocompatible materials, and 3D-printed parts.”

Additionally, the company is going to help engage its 7 million-plus community of GradCAD designers, engineers, manufacturers, and students into the “CoVent-19 Challenge,” which was started by anesthesiology residents at Massachusetts General Hospital with the objective of having a rapidly deployable ventilator designed, engineered and produced. And 3D printing will undoubtedly help getting that done.


If you have 3D printing capacity available or if your hospital needs face masks, go to this webpage to connect with Stratasys.