Disclaimer: For those looking to help with the Coronavirus Pandemic through 3D Printing, do so at your own risk and please abide by all local and official laws.
News about the spread of the deadly Coronavirus is everywhere these days. We hear daily reports of infection and death rate numbers ever increasing, but amid the negative news, certain industries are producing hope. Medical advances are slowly gaining ground against the spread of this virus. Doctors, nurses, and hospital employees are on the front line of this pandemic and we can thank their dedication and determination in helping the infected and possibly infected among us. They need all the help they can get, and 3D Printers have been instrumental in helping these advancements and valuable people the world over.
Government Red Tape
Whenever the average citizen decides to do something for the betterment of humankind, there is likely a government regulation staring them in the face keeping them away from realising their goal. The Covid-19 crisis has changed the face of how governments react to average citizens and small companies doing their part. Instead of endless avenues of red tape to contend with and various fees associated with bringing a new or reimagined product into the limelight, government regulations are now being relaxed. This is great news for anyone looking to help during this time. Average citizens are now being regarded as heroes as they use 3D Printers to help make medical equipment for the fight against this pandemic.
There are many ways that the Coronavirus can spread, but professionals in WHO, the World Health Organization, agree that this virus primarily spreads through infected droplets of saliva. General facemasks can be great at defending against some of the droplets from entering the body, but in the most hard hit areas and hospitals everywhere, people are finding more value in face shields.
Face shields are hard plastic face coverings that allow the person wearing it to easily breath while offering an excellent barrier against sneezing patients and saliva droplets from settling on the face. Face shields are naturally more expensive then general masks, so a lot of hospitals still maintain the N95 masks as standard coverings for doctors and nurses. However, 3D Printed face shields are now being produced by a variety of 3D Printing companies throughout the UK.
The initiative is actually rather genius as it is not generated toward big brand companies, but average citizens and small companies. Instead of focusing their attention on their standard production measures, small companies and 3D Printing enthusiasts are joining together to produce face shields for use in the medical field and on the front lines of this pandemic. The medical industry has been giving a gift from these valued 3D Printers.
3D Printed Respirators
The use of respirators has naturally increased during this pandemic, but respirators are not as easy to make as general face masks. They must be designed carefully to allow the wearer to breath while protecting them against potential infection from patients. Companies such as CECIMO are now focusing much of their additive manufacturing attention on 3D Printing respirators. 3D Printers are particularly adapted to the manufacture of these essential devices as they can easily contend with complex geometries and the intricate nature of these vital medical devices.
What is more important during this time is that 3D Printed respirators can be customised to various sizes and designs based upon need. Should it ever become essential, these respirators can easily be adapted to fit small children and even babies in some of the more hard hit areas where medical professionals may not be able to house all infected people.
Not only are actual 3D Printing companies getting onboard with the fight against the Coronavirus, but 3D Printed model companies as well. CG Trader is one of the biggest names in online 3D models. They have an array of various models produced and sold by 3D enthusiasts throughout the world. However, instead of simply focusing on every genre of 3D model now, CG Trader is focusing their attention on 3D Printable models that can help slow the spread of the virus.
CG Trader currently has a contest to invite new designs that can be 3D Printed rather than just online models to assist the medical field in fighting the virus. It is actually a genius move by the company with the potential to positively impact the medical industry for this and future outbreaks. It is often difficult to get new ideas into the mainstream medical industry, but these days, medical professionals are listening to new ideas from average citizens as well as professional companies. CG Trader’s contest has the potential to produce the next game changing idea for inhibiting the spread of the virus.
Medical equipment is something that is truly necessary these days, but where most people are focused on the need for respirators, face shields, and masks, intricate equipment is much more than these simple devices. We often fail to see that many aspects of medical equipment are comprised of multiple parts that can easily wear out or must be changed out between patients to help everything remain sanitary. Among these vital medical equipment parts are the various valves in use.
A valve regulates the flow of blood, medicine, and various other fluids within the medical field. It is also a very important part of medical devices such as ventilators. As we have all heard, this pandemic is based upon a respiratory response in which victims must be placed on ventilators if their respiratory system begins to be affected.
3D Printing is not only producing 3D Printed materials, but support pieces such as valves as well. 3D Printers are making the production of essential valves easier for medical professionals as they no longer have to rely on simply big name manufacturers, but small scale 3D Printing operations as well. A 3D Printer functions according to what the computer tells it to do, so with the proper program implemented, anyone can help medical facilities produce additional valves for a variety of functions.
3D Printing Makes Items Available Fast
There are certain things about 3D Printing that sets it apart from general manufacturing entities making them ideal for this pandemic we are facing. 3D Printing can work remarkably faster than general manufacturing operations. It is also more adaptable to changing up formats without having to completely refit the machines to manufacture something completely different. The same 3D Printer can go from making ventilators, to valves, to face shields by simply implementing a new directive into the system. Other manufacturing operations have to shut down and retrofit the machines to manufacture something different.
3D Printing Can Run with Limited People
Although we would all love to be back at work at this very moment, it is not an intelligent thing to do at this point in the pandemic. Manufacturing facilities are currently running with skeleton crews and should someone begin to show symptoms of the virus, they are immediately sent home leading to a further short staff scenario.
These large scale manufacturing machines require a lot of people to run them, but 3D Printers can run with far fewer people. Most 3D Printers can be operated remotely, using Octoprint perhaps, allowing more people to stay at home while maintaining production in a facility. True there does need to be someone around the remove a finished piece from the 3D Printer but having one or two people within a facility is far safer than having it fully staffed at this point.
What the Future Holds
Even though there remains vast distance between countries at this point, we are all connected with one ideological idea. We all want this virus to stop and see the death rate from the Coronavirus at 0%, but this is not a, “Wave your magic wand scenario,” unfortunately. We will, eventually come to a time where we will begin to see these numbers go down, but until then, it is up to everyone worldwide to do their part to reduce the risk of spreading this virus to anyone else. Lockdowns and government sanctioned quarantines are simply a part of life at the moment.
The world has faced pandemics before, but the vast majority of individuals alive today, haven’t seen anything like this before. We must take precautions to protect our family, friends, and even strangers we have yet to meet. 3D Printers are not going to completely stop the spread of this virus, but they are proving instrumental within the medical field with new ideas and options for medical professionals on a daily basis.
The use of 3D Printers is also not about only big name companies, but the individual 3D Printing enthusiasts that may have the next big breakthrough in our ability to fight this virus. With that said, the future is bright for our world as it always has been, for now, we must be inventive, cautious, and entrust that this virus will find its end soon with the help of intelligent individuals doing their part to help reduce and destroy this invisible, evil entity. Stay safe and keep making new ideas with your 3D Printer.