The COVID-19 pandemic has paved way for a global meltdown. Lockdowns and other measures implemented across the globe have helped in damage control and recovery from coronavirus to some extent, but the side-effects are here to stay. Manufacturing, retailing, and logistics sectors have taken a severe hit. This pandemic has effected damage on supply chains across countries and therefore, the distribution of products and services. The world is going towards a global recession phase. Companies working in the manufacturing sector are being compelled to change their working stack in order to see through this challenging time, one where the very existence of organizations is at stake. Consequently, 3D printing has taken the centrestage and is quickly becoming the baseline tech in manufacturing. This post covers the rise of 3D printing technology during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Reasons behind the use of 3D printing technology
1) 3D printing technology helps in producing parts and pieces whenever and wherever they are required. This technology doesn't rely on very expensive moulds for production. It directly helps businesses in the sense that transport costs are cut down since 3D printing allows production of elements within one's own premise.
2) If any problem occurs from suppliers' side, one can produce the same parts without losing their properties through 3D printing. It indirectly helps businesses to use the wide range of materials they have at hand.
3) Having a 3D printer in your company can quickly help build products in situations the final product depends on a single missing part. This way, last minute dependencies are taken care of through 3D printing.
Use of 3D printing Technology during COVID-19
1) Oxygen Valves
Italy uses oxygen respiratory valves prepared through the 3D printing technology. An Italian engineering firm, Isinnova, decided to mass-produce the valves using 3D printing. This was taken into consideration when Italian hospitals ran out of the respiratory valves needed to connect COVID-19 patients to ventilator machines. After examining the valve and creating a prototype, the company collaborated with a local manufacturing firm to create 100 valves in 24 hours which were then directly supplied to the hospitals.
Isinnova has also contributed through the development of highly potential airway pressure masks. The functionality of this mask is that it can be used for sub-intensive care of patients suffering from COVID-19.
3) Quarantine Booths
In China, 3D printing is a widely used technique employed for all types of works. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Winsun, a 3D printing company based in China, used its resources to 3D print 15 quarantine rooms for Xianning Central Hospital. The rooms were made up of crushed and ground solid urban construction waste.
Ventilators are no less than godsend at the time of the COVID-19 pandemic. The University of Minnesota and Protolabs, a provider of 3D printing services, have collaborated for the noble cause of developing the key parts of a low-cost ventilator. Similarly, Formlabs has successfully printed a ventilator splitter which allows a single ventilator to support multiple patients.