3D Printed Swabs to Reduce Shortages

3D Printed Swabs to Reduce Shortages

Formlabs, a Massachusetts-based 3D-printing company, is preparing its Ohio manufacturing facility to supply 100,000 swabs per day to stem the shortage of this key component of COVID-19 test kits.

These swabs will first be sent to partner hospitals that helped develop and design the swabs.  A plan is at work to access the distribution channels of 3,000 hospitals in the U.S. so that Formlabs can supply the much needed component of the COVID-19 test kits for widespread testing of the disease.

Video Spotlight: Hospitals face shortages of medical supplies as US cases spike (Mar 20, 2020, Fox News)

This post is based on the Tech Crunch article, 3D-printing company Formlabs expects to bring new swabs for COVID-19 to market, by Jonathan Shieber, March 25, 2020, and the YouTube video in the Spotlight. Image source: Jonathan Parry/Getty Images

Discussion Questions:

1. Is Formlabs in a position to address the shortage of medical supplies of COVID-19?

Guidance: Formlabs has the 3-D printing technology and ISO-135 controlled facility to manufacture test swabs, a key component of COVID-I9 test kits in high demand but short supply.  With more COVID-19 test kits, more testing can be done to ascertain the scope of the disease’s spread so that medical equipment, supplies, and services can be appropriated accordingly.

2. What role does Formlabs play in the supply chain of COVID-19 medical supplies?

Guidance:  Formlabs is one of the few local manufacturers of test swabs, a key component of the COVID-19 test kits.  The design of the swabs is done in partnership with hospitals. Their production is conducted in Formlabs’ Ohio facility using 3D-printing.  The swabs are distributed first to partner hospitals with a plan to reach 3,000 hospitals in the U.S. through these hospitals’ distribution channels.


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