COVID-19 took the healthcare system by storm (and surprise). We had little time to prepare and lots of lives at stake. 3D printing is trying to balance the playing field by responding to worldwide calls to action.
You don’t need me to tell you how devastating COVID-19 has been for people across the world.
We have faced ongoing shortages in personal protective equipment (PPE) and have been unable to protect ourselves, others, and loved ones from the virus as a result. In the hospital setting, the large-scale demand has left us desperate for equipment such as valves or ventilators.
CECIMO (which is the European association of the Machine Tool Industries and related Manufacturing Technologies, including Additive Manufacturing) was requested to address its membership and query if it could assist in producing equipment that has been diminished in hospitals (because of COVID-19) by the European Commission.
Although this initiative was begun by CECIMO in March, they have decided to expand their call to action to ALL companies even now.
The response that CECIMO has received so far has been positive, as many companies from the European AM industry have been stepping forward to lend a hand. The association believes that the AM industry shows great promise in helping quickly resolve the issue of equipment shortages.
Legally, however, some existing regulations might not allow the complete implementation of their plans. The association had said:
“We welcome Commissioner Breton’s statement, claiming that the EC will facilitate all companies helping in this time, also protecting them from potential legal issues..”
They aren’t about to give up though. They also stated that:
“The Commissioner also highlighted that technologies such as 3D printing should be included in the scope of a new fund aiming to sustain different sectors, such as healthcare, in this time of need.”
Filip Geerts, CECIMO Director General, backs the association’s statements with similar ones of his own. He says:
“I believe that the Additive Manufacturing sector can play an important role in sustaining the effort of hospital workers in the middle of this emergency. However, it is in the best interest of all to clarify the regulatory issues in order to move forward quickly and in a way that is not going to delay immediate actions.”
3D Printing Response
As we’ve seen throughout 2020, 3D printing has stepped up in response to the ongoing pandemic.
Some of the biggest examples include through:
- Producing PPE, which requires an organized community response
- Producing testing equipment
- Producing devices and safeguards to lower surface contact
- Producing emergency-use medical equipment, like ventilator splitters and ventilator valves, as well as single-use medical supplies
- Offering relief to disrupted supply chains with reshoring production
- Offering open source designs for 3D printable devices
Standards and approved designs have appeared as the pandemic continued, as leading organizations ensured that any 3D printing done for the medical community could be done appropriately. The 3D printing community has banded together to develop and disseminate resources in the fight against the spread of the novel coronavirus.
This year has changed how 3D printing companies do business and, indeed, how we all work and communicate.
Call To Action
If you have the ability to help out, please consider taking part. If not, we urge you to take part in other local initiatives that aim to alleviate the havoc brought by the pandemic, because every little bit counts. The pandemic is not over, and in many areas is in fact worsening as the weather turns colder.
CECIMO is still collecting information from interested companies via a form on their site. Many other organizations are also continuing their efforts.
As unusual as it is for a call to action to remain open for many months (as CECIMO’s has been open since March), our situation with the pandemic is just as unprecedented. The COVID-19 crisis is still here and is still claiming lives, so anything you can offer would have help alleviate the impact of the virus.
A big thank you to everyone who has contributed already, because the difference you make is huge!