In the past couple of weeks, there were several media items about 3D printing and the ongoing fight against the corona virus. Everybody who has a 3D printer, or knows someone who does, is thinking about how to put it to use in this way. This includes us at the AHK MakerSpace, where we have signed up for participation in the Corona initiative by Ultimaker,which links 3D printing support to shortages in medical supplies.
What exactly can you 3D print to fight corona?
Desperate times call for desperate measures, and so all kinds of creative 3D printed solutions are popping up everywhere, especially in places with big medical shortages. The type of objects varies wildly, from parts for ventilator machines, to parts for protective masks, to hooks for contactless door opening, to name a few. The big advantages of producing these parts by 3D printing are the local production, because the printers can make and develop the parts on the spot where they are needed, and the speed, because production can start immediately and no time is wasted on shipping.
However, as cool as 3D printing medical parts is, there are practical limitations to this. Medical-grade products are subject to very high-grade specifications, certifications, quality control and sterile production. And they should be, because the slightest contamination, deviation or malfunction could cost lives. So 3D printing medical parts at non-medical grade locations is a last-resort solution only, which we will hopefully need as little as possible. At the MakerSpace, we will keep a close eye on these developments and will not hesitate to put ourselves to use against corona whenever we can, although our production capacity is very limited with just two small 3D printers. What we have already been able to contribute so far is to link a medical supply professional to other 3D printing facilities with much larger production capacity.
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This article was written by Bo Jansen, employee of the AHK MakerSpace.