What is the Role of 3D Printing in Medicine Amid the COVID-19 Pandemic?

Following the events that transpired in the earlier months of this year, the World Health Organization was left with no other choice but was compelled to classify the coronavirus disease as a qualified pandemic. It has taken over the world.  The announcement was made public on March 12, 2020.

Needless to say, as days and weeks went by it brought about social and economic downturn,  with community lockdowns implemented in heavily affected countries. Eventually, this pandemic has put the global healthcare systems in a critical strain because of the surmounting shortages on medical respiratory equipment and hospital beds for affected patients, most of which are male.  

corona virusCOVID-19 patients are in harm’s way for acute respiratory distress syndrome. In order to survive, they need a high-level of respiratory support, most of the time via ventilator machines. 

The situation we have above has created a significant amount of pressure on PPE or personal protective equipment supplies. Healthcare professionals and workers (frontline nurses, hospital attendants, and employees) have dire need for these PPEs for them to extend needed help in treating critically ill patients. 

As of this writing, it is very evident that there are medical supply chain disruptions happening throughout the United States and even in Europe at the hospital level. In the US alone, there is a looming crisis in PPEs in  New York and Washington states. 

What we are trying to aim for in this content is to emphasize the recent collaborations and initiatives carried out by hospitals, private companies, and research bodies in utilizing 3D printing (additive manufacturing) systems at the height of the COVID-19 crisis. 

The additive manufacturing sector can realign its medical attention on a global scale and capitalize instead on large scale facilities for manufacturing purposes as well as the distribution of tested and verified CAD files.   

Our Recommendations and Conclusions

 In addressing the COVID-19 pandemic, we are encouraging additive manufacturing professionals to reach out and communicate with their local supply chain (for hospitals), and if possible make it also with national strategic stockpile holders. 

This global crisis is requiring us to come up with an open and organized form of communication. 

In Canada and the United States, state and local supply chain experts are relaying the best information they have with regard to what they have on backorder, in transit, or on stock.  

Medical devices are regulated for safety concerns. While every one of us, both in private and government sectors are responding to the crisis in a number of unprecedented ways, the 3D printing community needs to work alongside to make sure that highly sensitive and emergency parts are secure and safe. 

And even with the growing urgency of the COVID-19 pandemic, standard quality and safety measures of additive manufacturing firms need to continue to be followed. 

On a larger scale, academic medical centers that have formed partnerships between hospital institutions and university-based additive manufacturing resources, this is usually established in place, but careful and thorough review of the appropriate safety protocols should be maintained. 

Implementing unregulated parts safely is crucial since the inherent benefit and risk ratios are likely to change in a snap while the supplies and stocks for medical equipment are fast becoming unavailable and inaccessible. As for the regulatory bodies and business entities, they are encouraged to work hand-in-hand with the 3D printing community

For hospital systems that are taking advantage of the 3-dimensional printing system, a concern for liability is anticipated looming on the horizon with additive manufacturing materials that don’t come with safety and quality measures in place. Such systems are expected to quickly address this concern if not done already.  



The Role of 3D Printing Australia in Jewelry Production

One of the industries that embraced 3D printing Australia in an effort to take its production processes to its next level of efficiency is the jewellery-making sector. The major players in this industry are now taking good advantage of this technology, harnessing it to implement dramatic changes to how this industry has been doing things for hundreds of years. 

The 3D printing service is now being tapped for its potential in creating viable patterns or room for investment casting. Moreover, it is also now being taken advantage of to directly print out pieces of jewellery, even intricate designed ones. 

Why Do We Need to Use 3D Printing?

Utilizing 3-dimensional printing technology in jewellery production is accompanied by several advantages. These include the following:  

  • 3D printing makes designing of intricate jewellery pieces possible. The technology is not only making designing possible but designing complex design pieces is made seamless and easy, too. 
  • 3D printing allows the making of multiple patterns at once, even when you happen to only have a really short amount of time. By this measure, significant lead times and costs can be reduced as opposed to some of the most conventional pattern making techniques available.  
  • 3-dimensional printing makes room for the production of multiple designs in a single print. This signifies that your low production volume investment is at its most cost-competitive pricing possible 

Techniques Used in 3D Printing Australia Industry

There are practically 2 methods used in making pieces of jewellery when you employ 3D printing techniques for this purpose, direct printing method, and the investment casting method.  

The investment casting method is considered by industry insiders as among the most in-demand and most popular methods used in jewellery production in the country today, and also in many different parts of the globe. Investment casting is comprised of the following 8 step process:  

3d printing

1. Pattern formation

The traditional way of doing this is by pouring the specially formulated casting wax, normally into a metal mold. This allows for the 3D printing pattern to be printed directly from a castable resin or wax.

2. Mold assembly

After the making of printed or molded patterns, it will then be assembled onto a “casting tree”. This makes it possible to have a one time and one go casting of multiple parts. There are 3D printing methods that will disrupt this part of the process and instead prints the tree and the part patterns in just one single step.  

3. Shell building 

After the pattern assembly is completed, the entire assembly would be submerged for several times in a slurry. The coating of slurry is allowed to air dry and should be left to solidify so that a ceramic outer layer could be formed over the pattern. 

4. Burnout

The structure will be temporarily deposited inside a furnace to melt out the original resin/wax structure, to give way to the formation of a hollow negative cavity or mold.

5. Pouring

After the removal of all the original patterns from the ceramic negative has taken place, the final casting material will be poured into the mold where it will solidify as it cools down. 

6. Knock off

The removal of the outer ceramic mold is necessary. This can be easily carried out when you vibrate the mold which will eventually cause the outer shell to knock off.  

7. Cut off

Individual cast items can be cut off from the mold tree right after the removal of the ceramic shell. 

8. Finishing

The cast parts will now undergo refinement and all the finishing touches that the traditional jeweller would deem is necessary.  

Industry experts believe that 3D printing Australia may actually hold the key in furthering the growth of the jewellery-making industry in the country. With all the inherent positive attributes that we have been having about 3-dimensional printing, there is no doubt that it will take this industry a step closer into the future. 

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