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Commentary & Analysis

Got a 3D Printer? Save a Life

As the world reels from the impact of the coronavirus and the increasing scarcity of critical medical equipment like masks, gloves, and ventilators, the 3D maker community is stepping in to do its part. Do you have a 3D printer? Join the movement.

By Heidi Tolliver-Walker
Published: March 25, 2020

As the world reels from the impact of the coronavirus and the increasing scarcity of critical medical equipment like masks, gloves, and ventilators, the 3D maker community is stepping in to do its part. Do you have a 3D printer? Join the movement.

Although individual companies may not feel that they can produce enough parts to blunt the impact, together their resources can be formidable. Just think about the movie Dunkirk, which tells the true story of how, in 1940, a fleet of small vessels could do what the large naval ships could not rescue 336,000 Allied troops from the beaches of Dunkirk as the Germans advanced against the troops trapped along the shoreline. These heroes were not the captains of large, powerful battleships. They were captains of small fishing boats, recreational sailing ships, and any and every other type of serviceable civilian vessel whose owners were willing to come to the aid of strangers.

Today, the 3D printing community is doing the same.  As just a few examples:

  • One Onondaga County, NY, 3D printing company, Budmen Industries, has produced 400 protective face masks for a coronavirus testing center in Upstate New York. Now it is galvanizing 3D makers all cross the globe to help.
  • 3D printing equipment manufacturer Stratasys is using its own capacity and enlisting the capacity of its customers to produce protective equipment for Massachusetts General Hospital.
  • Materialise, which producesa range of software solutions and 3D printing services, is offering free design files for a hands-free door opener that minimizes exposure for people who still need leave the house for work.
  • When a Northern Italian hospital desperately and urgently needed a replacement valve for a reanimation devices, local 3D printing company Isinnova brought its 3D printer to the hospital and redesigned and produced the missing piece within hours.
  • When two hospitals in Hong Kong were runnin out of eye and face shields, the Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU) came to the rescuewith its 3D printing capabilities.

Efforts like these are growing all around the country and the world as the maker community is banding together to fill critical needs and save lives.

Of course, there are regulations that need to be followed and potential legal action if makers reverse-engineer and produce patented items. This is why maker and educational hubs are so important because they filter offers and match makers to the appropriate needs. 3DPrintingIndustry.com, for example, links to a Google Sheet that gathers makers from around the world to produce critical components such as oxygen valves. It also links to another initiative organized by Formlabs.

Have a 3D printer and want to help? Plug into the maker communities and their resource hubs, or contact your 3D printer manufacturer to see if they have initiatives you can join.

Have a great story about how 3D printers (or any print shop) is coming to the rescue during the coronavirus pandemic? Please post it here!

Heidi Tolliver-Walker Heidi is an industry analyst specializing in digital, one-to-one, personalized URL, and Web-to-print applications. Her Marketer’s Primer Series, availalbe through Digital Printing Reports, includes “Digital Printing: Transforming Business and Marketing Models,” 1:1 (Personalized) Printing: Boosting Profits Through Relevance,” “Personalized URLs: Beyond the Hype,” and “Web-to-Print: Transforming Document Management and Marketing.”

 

Discussion

By Rick Ayres on Mar 28, 2020

Here's what we've been doing. We're trying to find more manufacturers and 3D printers to ramp up in our area. There's a lot of need!

https://www.facebook.com/plugins/post.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2FLakesMarketingAndPrint%2Fposts%2F3813822298657974&width=500&hc_location=ufi

 

By Heidi Tolliver-Walker on Mar 28, 2020

Rick, that is absolutely unbelievable! When I hear stories like this, I actually get all choked up. Thank you. It's also a great way for printers to keep their businesses viable as marketers pull back. There has never been a better time to buy a 3D printer (or a second or a third)!

 

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