We’ve written before about the latest advances in 3D-printed prostheses. Now we’re reading that companies all over the country—all over the world—are temporarily shifting from prosthetics production to the manufacture of 3D-printed personal protective equipment (PPE) for nurses, doctors, and other healthcare workers battling to save COVID-19 patients.
It only took us 15 minutes of surfing around on Google to turn up half a dozen examples. We’ll keep updating this list as we find more instances. If you know of any, send us an email ([email protected]) and we’ll add the item to this post.
A six-year-old nonprofit affiliated with the University of Central Florida, Limbitless manufactures personalized 3D-printed bionic arms for children who otherwise would lack access to a prosthesis. The organization is now producing face-shield components to help mitigate the dire shortage of medical equipment. “We are honored to be a small part of a network committed to supporting our medical community,” says Limbitless CEO Albert Manero. “They are the real heroes, serving the community selflessly.” Watch the video.
By day this two-year-old North Carolina company makes components and products for multiple industries, including prosthetics. By night it produces face-shield frames, which get attached to transparent shields for use by health-care foot soldiers on the front lines. Engineering faculty at a local college (Lenoir CC) have a hand in the operation. Here’s Additive America co-founder Zac Holcomb with more details.
This Portland, Connecticut, company specializes in silicon hands and fingers. Focused more on cosmetics than functionality, SilTec’s standard products are incredibly lifelike, replete with details like tattoos, nail polish, and fingerprints. It’s now collaborating with a Halloween costume company to produce reusable masks with replaceable filters. The partnership is called Masksealz. See how it works.
Free 3D Hands
As advertised, this Brisbane nonprofit manufacturers prosthetic hands and provides them at no charge to children in Australia and around the world. Earlier this month the company repurposed 14 of its 3D printers to produce face shields for workers in various essential industries. The company quickly raised $33,000 in donations to support the effort. “We don’t want essential services to have to find extra money within their budgets for this additional PPE,” the company wrote on its website, “and that is why we want to provide them for free. We are already receiving many requests from staff on the front-line who require additional PPE for their protection.”
It doesn’t get much more DIY than this. A 24-year-old Spanish engineer named Guillermo Martinez founded Ayúdame3D two years ago with nothing more than a $200 3D printer and an appetite for how-to YouTube videos about 3D printing. The company now provides prosthetic limbs to people in impoverished countries. That worthy project is on hold while Ayúdame3D supports Spain’s beleaguered medical pros with 3D-printed face masks. The company is focusing its efforts on small-town pharmacists and nursing-home staff in Spain’s smaller towns.
Heard about another member of the limb-loss community doing good work to help people affected by COVID-19? Let us know: [email protected].