How 3D printing is helping to fight COVID-19

29 April 2020 | Web Article Number: ME202018942

Automation & Robotics
Disaster Management
ICT In Industry

WITH the COVID-19 outbreak, medical supplies such as face masks, respirators and ventilators have become scarce and this shortage has prompted action by the 3D printing community and aficionados. From specialised masks to various breathing apparatus, 3D printing is helping people to think ‘out of the box’ and share their designs for free in the hope that it will help lower the infection rate.

That’s according to Brian Andrew Managing Director for RS Components in Sub Sahara Africa, who said that there had been a significant increase in interest in 3D printers over recent years.

“When commercial 3D printing first made its way on the scene, it was expensive and only a few individuals saw the potential of owning a 3D printer. With advances in the design of these devices, 3D printers have become far more affordable, making this technology highly accessible. The 3D printing phenomena has infiltrated almost every industry, assisting in conceptualising, prototyping as well as small batch production of parts and components.”

How 3D printing is helping to fight COVID-19
Skinny Shugo Kgwedi using an RS Pro 3D Printer

He added that in the medical industry specifically, 3D printing is continuously being used to better the lives of patients as well as revolutionise surgeries for doctors globally.

He cited last year’s pioneering surgical procedure using 3D-printed middle ear bones, developed by Professor Mashudu Tshifularo and his team at the University of Pretoria (UP) in South Africa as an example which made headlines globally.

“The 3D printing community, which is growing, has proved that this technology is here to stay and that anyone with an idea can literally see their idea come to life.”

He said the coronavirus pandemic had sparked a significant uptick in 3D printing activity, with the shortage of essential equipment like ventilators, masks and other preventative and safety gear prompting design engineers and makers in the 3D printing community to volunteer their skills to ease the pressure on manufacturers, healthcare providers and governments.

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