A coalition of companies and universities assembled by Stratasys Ltd. to produce face shields leveraging 3D printers now numbers more than 150, the company said. Among others, the list includes Boeing, Toyota Motor Company, Medtronic, Dunwoody College of Technology, the University of Central Florida, and the University of Minnesota.
Last week, in an effort to confront the COVID-19 pandemic, Stratasys set an initial goal to produce 5,000 face shields at no cost to recipients through its own and partner resources by today, March. 27. This includes both a 3D-printed visor and a clear plastic shield that covers the entire face. Stratasys said that number will be exceeded by the end of today and the coalition should be able to produce more than 11,000 face shields next week, and 16,000 or more during the following week.
Any 3D printing shop that wishes to help print at least 100 visors can fill out an online form to be invited to join the effort. For the U.S., Stratasys is using its GrabCAD Shop work order management software to assign orders from healthcare systems to each coalition member. In Europe, the company is serving as a hub to connect service bureaus with those requesting help, and has fielded offers and requests in most of the larger countries. The company also has posted the full face shield printing and assembly instructions for anyone to produce face shields on their own.
So far, the coalition is serving the needs of more than 30 different health systems, covering hospitals, clinics, academic medical centers, and nursing homes. The first shipments started on Wednesday, Mar. 25. Stratasys has received requests for 350,000 face shields, so further acceleration in production across coalition members is critical.
“I have never seen collaboration across our industry the way I’ve been seeing it over the last couple weeks,” said Stratasys Healthcare Segment Leader, Scott Drikakis, who is directing the company’s COVID-19 response in the Americas. “The need is dire, but we are getting the kind of commitments from our coalition partners that will make a real difference and help buy time to scale up the manufacturing of shields and other essential supplies. This rapid, adaptive response is what 3D printing does exceptionally well, and I’m very proud of our employees and partners.”
Stratasys is producing thousands of visors itself in Minnesota, California, and Texas, marshaling the resources of Stratasys, Stratasys Direct Manufacturing, and MakerBot. This is in addition to continuing to meet other requests of customers and partners for 3D printers, materials, on-demand parts, and service. “Stay in place” orders are not currently limiting its ability to meet these needs other than limited access to on-site support.
The company is also responding to the crisis in additional ways, including ramping up production of 3D printing materials to support its partner network. It also has made free the material licenses on many of its high-end printers used to make the visors during this time.
An initiative led by anesthesiology residents of Massachusetts General Hospital called the CoVent-19 Challenge will launch next week. The challenge will ask engineers and designers to help develop a new rapidly deployable ventilator and other innovative solutions to the ventilator shortage, and Stratasys will support the challenge and promote it via its GrabCAD community of more than 7 million professional designers, engineers, manufacturers and students. The company will also provide prototyping services to the challenge finalists.