How Automated Post-Printing Enabled Emergency Supply Production & Rapid Scaling Efforts for COVID-19 Response

Orange Resin 3D printed nasal swabs on 3D printer.Before 2020, it was easiest to look back on the World War II era for examples of times that emergency supply production took place. During this time (about 80 years ago), key domestic manufacturers were called upon by the United States government to shift their production to supply products that were urgently needed, and that could be created without a major dependence on global supply chains. As the saying goes, history tends to repeat itself, and sure enough, the government has been reliant on manufacturers to shift production for critically needed medical products in the wake of 2020’s COVID-19 pandemic.

The good news is that nowadays there is additive manufacturing, which has made the shift in production to medical and testing supplies significantly more expedient. PostProcess was able to contribute towards the emergency supply production and scale-up efforts of Print Parts, a Manhattan-based additive manufacturing service bureau. After securing a contract with New York City for the production of over 1 million 3D printed nasopharyngeal (NP) swabs for COVID-19 Test Kits, Print Parts invested in eight medical-grade Digital Light Processing (DLP) Envision One cDLM 3D printers from EnvisionTEC for their ISO 13485 compliant production lab. While these additional printers enabled scalable 3D printing, post-printing with traditional isopropyl alcohol (IPA) caused a significant bottleneck, as it would have taken over 20 minutes to clean each batch of printed swabs.

By implementing the PostProcess™ DEMI 800™ Resin Removal solution, Print Parts managed to reduce their resin removal process 5x over, as the software-controlled DEMI 800 delivered a completely hands-free cleaning process in a single 90-second submersion [followed by a quick IPA rinse]. Thanks to the efficiencies enabled by the PostProcess solution, Print Parts was able to rapidly scale in a short amount of time, and bring effective testing to individuals across the greater New York City area.

Check out our joint press release with Print Parts to learn more about how our technology-enabled rapid results not possible with previous methods, and more background information on Print Parts and the COVID-19 response contract itself.

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