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 Continue reading

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Fast Fashion Turns to Fast Trash

Fast Fashion Turns to Fast Trash

April 10, 2020

Ghana imports large amounts of secondhand clothing from the UK and other countries, but poor quality makes much of it unsaleable.  Over 50 tons a day, representing about forty percent of the items coming into Kantamanto, the main market, end up being thrown away.

Landfill sites in Ghana are overflowing with the debris.  Low quality fast fashion items, cheap single use t-shirts from marathons or other special events, and unclean items have little to no value in the resale market.  Vendors gamble, buying their bales of used clothing sight unseen, and hope for the best.  Sadly, much of what they purchase will be thrown away, making Ghana and other African countries a dumping ground for other countries’ unwanted textile waste.


Video Spotlight: How fast fashion choices in the the UK are causing an environmental catastrophe in Ghana (Feb 18, 2020, ITV News)


This post is based on the Daily Mail article, The fast fashion trash mountain: Shocking report reveals today’s cheap clothes are so badly made they often can’t be resold—and end up rotting into a toxic soup in Africa, by Barbara Davies, February 25, 2020, and the YouTube video featured in Continue reading

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Bug butter in Belgium

Bug butter in Belgium

Scientists at Ghent University in Belgium succeeded in replacing butter with Black soldier fly larva fat in waffles, cakes, and cookies.  Not only is the insect food higher in protein, vitamin, fiber and minerals, it is also more environmentally friendly and cheaper than animal products.


Video Spotlight: Scientists bake cake using insect ‘butter’ and folks can’t tell the difference (Feb 28, 2020, Breaking News)


This post is based on the Reuters article, Waiter, there’s a fly in my waffle: Belgian researchers try out insect butter, by Jakub Riha, February 28, 2020, and the YouTube video featured in the Video Spotlight. Image source: © 2/James Worrell/Ocean/Corbis.

Discussion Questions:

1. What operational issues are addressed by replacing butter with larva fat?

Guidance: It addresses economic and sustainability issues. Insect-based food is more environmentally friendly, and less expensive, than animal products.

2. In what ways is larva fat more sustainable than butter?

Guidance: Insects use less land and are more efficient at converting feed than cattle.  Additionally, less water is used to produce butter.

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