More companies from the 3D printing industry support the healthcare system by creating so-called “Swabs”, allowing even more virus tests to be carried out to cause COVID-19 disease. To date, an initiative whose goal is to increase the number of tests performed has supported, among others Formlabs or Carbon 3D.
The excuse 3D printing initiative was supported by another large company from the resin 3D printing industry – EnvisionTEC. Their project has successfully passed the clinical testing phase and from now on, together with a group of partners operating in accordance with the principles set out by the FDA, will deal with mass production. According to EnvisionTEC, a single Envision One 3D printer is able to produce up to 2,400 swabs in 24 hours. The machine parks of the manufacturer and his partners, equipped with Envision One cDLM devices, allow to achieve efficiency of up to a million swabs per day.
Day by day the state of knowledge about the prevailing pandemic coronavirus is increasing, but researchers are largely unanimous – quick diagnosis of as many people as possible, through testing and social isolation are currently the most effective means of combating a pandemic. The problem, however, was the increased demand for spatulas for nasopharyngeal swabs, so the search for alternative methods of their production began.
Swabs are in the form of a ten-centimeter stick, ended with a brush, which allows the collection of biological material from the nasopharynx. At a level of 7-8 cm, the sticks have a narrowing in which they can be broken and placed securely in the vial and transported for analysis in the laboratory. Sticks are of course disposable, and with a rapidly growing number of cases, an increasing number of them is needed.
The spatulas were designed by specialists from EnvisionTEC in cooperation with the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC), and then underwent a series of tests – including checking their absorption, testing mechanical and biological-chemical properties. The final stage was obtaining positive results of clinical tests and FDA approval, which allowed to start serial production.
E-Guide Soft resin was used to make swabs, which is widely used in the dental industry. It is a medical grade material, thanks to which it could be quickly adapted for the production of swabs, which will give reliable results for testing on COVID-19. Importantly, 3D prints can be sterilized at temperatures up to 130°C, while maintaining the expected mechanical properties.
On the EnvisionTEC COVID-19 Efforts website, the manufacturer has provided detailed information for companies that are interested in purchasing and instructions for companies interested in 3D printing spatulas.