Coronavirus outbreak leads to nasal swabs being 3D-printed

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3D-printing is being used to quickly produce in-demand items to help tackle the coronavirus pandemic, including nasal swabs.

Northwell Health, for example, has started 3D-printing nasal swabs to be used within the health system and across the U.S. to test for COVID-19.

“Currently, swabs are running out and the lead manufacturers are based in Italy,” explained Northwell Health in a statement emailed to Fox News. To overcome this shortage, Northwell Health partnered with the University of South Florida, Tampa General Hospital and 3D-printing specialist Formlabs in Somerville, Mass. to design and produce the swabs.

The swabs are now being produced at a rate of 2,000 to 3,000 a day, according to Northwell Health, which is also making the swab design available online.

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3D-printing technology is also being used to produce other in-demand items in the coronavirus crisis, such as components for masks and face shields.

3D-printed nasal swabs.

3D-printed nasal swabs. (Northwell Health)

Budmen Industries, a small 3D-printing company in Onondaga County, N.Y., has been sharing a template for printing face shields and also providing the shields themselves to local health care workers and first responders.

“We looked at a number of shortages and we saw that these face shields were out,” Isaac Budmen told Dana Perino on “The Daily Briefing” last week.

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Syracuse University is also using the Budmen Industries template to 3D-print face shields.

Other experts across the U.S. are harnessing 3D-printing to produce parts for face shields. Researchers at Northwestern University have demonstrated the ability to generate 1,000 components for face shields per day using a single 3-D printer.

Tech giant HP is also deploying its 3D printing expertise to support the battle against coronavirus. Last week, the Palo Alto, Calif.-based firm said that it had delivered more than 1,000 3D-printed parts to local hospitals. “Initial applications being validated and finalized for industrial production include face masks, face shields, mask adjusters, nasal swabs, hands-free door openers, and respirator parts,” it said.

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HP added it was working with a number of government agencies all over the world "to ensure a synchronized and effective approach.”

The first items being validated and produced include a hands-free door opener, a clasp that can be used to adjust masks and brackets to hold face shields.

Other applications in the testing and validation phase that are expected to be in production soon include 3D-printed parts for a mechanical bag valve mask designed to provide emergency ventilation to COVID-19 patients and hospital-grade face masks.

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As of Monday morning, at least 732,153 coronavirus cases have been diagnosed worldwide, at least 143,055 of which are in the U.S. The disease has accounted for at least 34,686 deaths around the world, including 2,513 people in the U.S.

Follow James Rogers on Twitter @jamesjrogers