Created: April 03, 2020 05:39 PM
(ABC 6 News) - With hospitals and health care workers around the globe dealing with a shortage of face masks, face shields, and other equipment, people stepping up to fill the gap with 3D printing have done so with the best of intentions.
“The problem is there’s a lot of material getting used for the 3D printing, a lot of filter material that’s being used to go into these masks that don’t have a known filtration rate, a known fit test against the face, and don’t pass the typical standards that we would need in the operating room or in the hospital to be able to feel safe,” said Dr. Jonathan Morris, director of Mayo Clinic’s 3D Anatomic Modeling Laboratory.
Mayo Clinic and other institutions are prototyping on their 3D printers to find ways to make equipment creatively, that also keeps people safe.
“There are some very well-meaning scientific people at academic institutions that are working on creating N95 mask substitutes, but they’re going through testing so if you hand them to a health care provider, they can feel secure that what you’re handing them can actually protect them,” Dr. Morris said.
He and his team have been trying to print items like face shields, filter attachments for traditional respirators, parts for ventilators and even nasal swabs.
“So if we do need 100,000 nasal swabs because we can’t get them through traditional means, we’ll have a way to 3D print them,” Dr. Morris said.
Dr. Morris said as of now, Mayo Clinic does not have any critical equipment needs, but they’re looking at partnerships with manufacturers and figuring out how to create their own equipment if, down the road, they need to.
The National Institute of Health’s 3D Print Exchange website has designs for PPE that have been vetted and are available for anyone to access.
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