How Stratasys is helping the COVID-19 medical crisis with 3D printing

Hospitals are scrambling to get ventilators, personal protective equipment, and other medical supplies. 3D printing leader Stratasys is partnering with various companies to help fill that demand.

How Stratasys is helping the COVID-19 medical crisis with 3D printing

TechRepublic's Karen Roby talked with Scott Drikakis, healthcare segment leader, Americas at Stratasys, about how Stratasys, a 3D printing company, is creating needed healthcare equipment for hospitals during the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic. The following is an edited transcript of their conversation.

Scott Drikakis: At Stratasys our primary focus today is focusing on what we can do in the short-, intermediate- and long term to help flatten the curve within the COVID-19 pandemic. To start with, our short-term solution is focusing on face shields and getting as many out to our healthcare providers, our frontline staff, as possible and we're doing this in partnership with our top customers as well as our industry partners within the additive manufacturing space.

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Then we're also focusing on a midterm solution which focuses more on the face masks and solutions that have more regulatory control that require testing and a full end-to-end solution. And then tertiary, we're focusing on the long term on the medical components, the valves, the swabs that can be produced, the mechanical ventilators that can be produced to help mitigate any potential shortages that are located within the hospitals. Also splitters, things like that, just the innovative people that are out in the world today are kind of really stepping up to try and help in any way that they can.

Karen Roby: As mentioned, healthcare sectors, this is nothing new for you guys to be working within, but how set up are you at this point to do this? And I know you guys are planning on donating a significant amount of the masks and things like that.

Scott Drikakis: One of the things that's been overwhelming is the amount of support that everyone is willing to provide. So this by no means is just what Stratasys is doing. We are partnering with all of our top companies, our top customers, healthcare institutions, and even individuals with, with maker-bought printers as well. We are well-structured to support the demand, we are nowhere near capable of the volume that is forecasted or anticipated for a need.

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Karen Roby: Are you finding good cooperation thus far, Scott?

Scott Drikakis: What's been overwhelming is the amount of support. So we have companies like Medtronic, Toyota, GM, Ford, Google, Microsoft, Nike, Facebook. Everyone is really stepping up and saying, "What can we do and how do we do it?" Really the scalability of this is something that, I know in my 20 years in this industry, I have never seen a global effort more orchestrated than what they are today on the COVID-19 crisis.

Karen Roby: Talk a little bit about the timeline, like how long it takes to get, when you talk about mass producing some of the equipment that these frontline workers again are going to need. What does a timeline like that look like from start to finish until you're able to get it out?

SEE: How 3D printing can be used for coronavirus testing kits, masks and ventilator parts (TechRepublic)

Scott Drikakis: Now that all of the designs are publicly available, there are STLs, files that customers can take offline and immediately apply to their printers. The printing process really will depend if you're doing one or two shields or visors, that can take two hours. Right now what we believe at Stratasys within just the Stratasys capabilities, we can do between 2,000 and 3,000 face shields per day. And when we multiply that by the number of customers we have, it's tens multiplier of that volume. Stratasys is establishing a coalition of the entire industry to come together and say, "What are your volume capacities and what can you donate to this process?"

Karen Roby: Unfortunately we're going to need every bit of it, Scott, as we fight our way through this. And our hat's always off to those healthcare workers who are out there and taking care of business for all of us.

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Image: Mackenzie Burke