3D Systems Doing Its Part to Overcome COVID-19 Medical Device and Personal Protection Equipment Shortage
Monday, March 30th, 2020
The rapid spread of COVID-19 has put the healthcare industry under tremendous strain as it struggles to provide care for affected patients while facing a staggering shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE) and life-saving medical devices. In response, 3D Systems (NYSE: DDD) has pledged its support to help medical device manufacturers and hospitals bridge the supply chain gap for resources to help overcome the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition, 3D Systems is requesting assistance and participation from its global network of partners, customers, and others within the additive manufacturing community who are in a position to help produce these parts to meet the urgent needs of the healthcare sector as they care for patients, and contain the spread of COVID-19.
"The healthcare industry is facing an unprecedented challenge. Each day the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 increases, while resources to help fight this pandemic continue to dwindle," said Vyomesh Joshi ("VJ"), president and CEO, 3D Systems. "The healthcare professionals who are putting their lives on the line to treat affected patients soon will run out of the equipment needed to care for these patients or to keep themselves safe. One of the greatest benefits of additive manufacturing is that it allows companies to reduce the dependency on the supply chain, manufacture parts internally or make them on demand. And this is what we're asking our network, and encouraging the industry to help us do right now – circumvent the supply chain to manufacture these PPE and life-saving devices as quickly as possible."
The company has already seen applications of its technology and software being used to help in COVID-19 efforts. 3D Systems' customer Lonati SpA, a manufacturing company based in Brescia, Italy, deployed a 3D Systems ProX® SLS 6100 3D printer with DuraForm® materials to 3D print more than 100 venturi ventilator valves for respiratory machines, which are facing a critical shortage throughout the world because severe cases of COVID-19 require intensive care and oxygenation.
3D Systems is a recognized leader in medical device design and manufacturing. The company's deep experience and expertise in 3D printing, engineering, quality control, and regulatory requirements have enabled production of nearly 1 million medical devices. As 3D Systems engages in production of medical devices to support healthcare teams globally, they will do so only under FDA Emergency Use Authorization announcement and corresponding issuance of letter of authorization, or with cooperation of the medical equipment companies to qualify units as an equivalent component. This will help accelerate utilization of these components to by the healthcare industry.
Bridging the Supply Chain with On Demand Manufacturing
3D Systems' is providing direct support through its worldwide network of On Demand manufacturing facilities. The company has the industry's most comprehensive offering of manufacturing solutions, from consulting and design through to both additive and subtractive manufacturing capabilities, that are enabling production of parts to help offset the growing need for medical supplies.
3D Systems is currently producing prototypes of the same valves proven in emergency hospital conditions in Italy in its facilities in Rock Hill, South Carolina and Lawrenceburg, Tennessee for emergency COVID-19 response efforts. The company anticipates it has the capacity to deliver up to 12,600 units per week in clear plastic, and another 1,400 per week in durable Nylon.
3D Systems' On Demand facility in Pinerolo, Italy partnered with Isinnova (Brescia, Italy) to produce 100 valves enabling creation of an emergency ventilator mask. Isinnova was contacted by Dr. Renato Favero, a former head physician of the Gardone Valtrompia Hospital, who had the idea to create an emergency ventilator mask by modifying a snorkeling mask in market courtesy of Decathlon (France). Through modifications to the CAD file, a new component was designed to connect the mask to the ventilator. 3D Systems' On Demand team produced these parts in PA12 material and sealed them with Dichtol to make them air-tight and sterilisable with the common hospital methods such as autoclave or disinfectant detergents.
New Ultrasound Simulation to Aid COVID-19 Care
3D Systems has also developed a new COVID-19 module for its Simbionix U/S Mentor simulator, and is making it generally available March 30 to help provide hands-on experience in the education of point-of-care ultrasound skills that are essential in triage and monitoring of the coronavirus. Lung ultrasound is considered an alternative to chest radiography or CT scanning in COVID-19 patients. It is safe, easy and quick for use at point-of-care, repeatable, low cost and radiation-free. Therefore, training physicians to rapidly acquire lung ultrasound skills can be critical for the success of COVID-19 management. This module is provided free of charge to existing customers using 3D Systems' Simbionix simulators such as educational institutions, hospitals and healthcare organizations worldwide.
Additionally, as institutions shift to distance learning programs during the coronavirus, 3D Systems is offering an abundance e-learning resources free-of-charge during the pandemic. These remote learning tools span a wide range of medical specialties, tasks and procedures, and can be accessed from the company's website.
"We're stepping up and doing our part to connect people in need with those who can help using digital manufacturing solutions, and we've received offers from the community for everything from printer materials, usage of facilities for printing, engineers' time and expertise, and even offering to fund efforts," said Joshi. "If your organization can help in any way, please reach out to us, so we can start the conversation. Collaboration will be the key to saving lives."