COVID-19 Pandemic Impact on the 3D Printing in Healthcare Market

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The World Health Organization (WHO) has categorized COVID-19 disease as a pandemic, which has affected nearly every region all over the globe. With the outbreak of COVID-19 disease worldwide, the government of many countries have executed restrictions on travelling, social distancing norms, and work from home policies. Even in the advanced and developed countries, healthcare systems are overloaded due to a sudden rise in the number of COVID-19 patients being hospitalized. During the pandemic of COVID-19 disease, healthcare systems are under critical tension due to the shortage of medical devices, equipment, staff, and beds in hospitals. The acute respiratory syndrome patients affected with COVID-19 disease require great levels of respiratory support to survive. Additionally, during this pandemic, there is a huge requirement for personal protective equipment (PPE) used by the workers in healthcare systems; however, medical professionals are facing a shortage of PPE kits. Currently, there are many problems faced throughout the world in the supply chain of medical equipment. The pandemic is highlighting the potential and use of 3D printers in the healthcare sector.



What is 3D Printing Technology?

3D printing is a comparatively new method of manufacturing, which is expanding rapidly and sets up numerous applications in healthcare, aerospace, automotive, arms trade, and many other areas. Due to several benefits of the 3D printing procedure, 3D printing has become one of the favoured processes in the healthcare industry. By using 3D printing, complicated parts and shapes in the human body can be easily determined with little complexity. Moreover, advancements in the department of CAD (computer assisted design) have enabled 3D printing devices to easily identify complicated parts. 

How is the 3D Printing Market Responding to COVID-19 Crisis?

In recent times, the rapid growth of the COVID-19 pandemic has put a vast burden on the global healthcare systems—with augmented demand for critical medical devices and supplies. The 3D printing community is responding to the COVID-19 pandemic by pledging to help the manufacturing of medical devices such as personal protective equipment for workers and ventilators for hospitals for tackling the pandemic chaos. For instance, the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing (NASCAR) has a research & technology centre that makes use of 3D printing to build composite parts for the next-gen of stock cars. Although now the season of NASCAR has been put on hold in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19, the company is now using its 3D printers to produce PPE kits for the healthcare workers. The 3D printers at NASCAR are running 18 hours a day to manufacture face shields and donating them at hospitals.

Several players in the 3D printing industry have shifted their concentration towards how 3D printing can be utilized in healthcare systems for tackling problems faced during the COVID-19 outbreak. In the 3D printing community, many professional 3D printing providers, makers, and designers have taken a step forward to respond to the global crisis using their respective knowledge to reduce the pressure on the government and supply chains. To improve the situation, many hospitals, companies, and researchers are taking initiatives and collaborating to make use of 3D printing techniques during the pandemic of COVID-19.  

For instance, in April 2020, Fracassi, the CEO of a start-up company named Isinnova, provided a 3D printer to Brescian hospital within a few hours after noticing scarcities in healthcare equipment. The company has printed ventilator valves on site for a price, which was just a small fraction of the original price set by a medical device manufacturer. Moreover, an Italian 3D printing company, Lonati printed more of these valves in March 2020 to support and meet the hospital’s requirements.

In the U.K., a group of 8,000 members involving enthusiasts and additive manufacturing CEOs have 3D printers in their homes and have collaborated to manufacture more than 100,000 single-use face shields to fill voids in the supply chain. Moreover, the Spain-based Valdecilla Hospital has even used 3D printers which are obtained from the U.S. providers to print and design swabs. These 3D printers are used in Covid-19 disease testing kits to take samples from a patient’s mouth or nose in huge quantities.

In addition, the Belgium-based additive manufacturing firm Materialise in March 2020 has 3D-printed a customisable, hands-free door handle that lets people open doors by using their arms or elbows to avert the spread of the deadly virus.

Post Covid-19 Scenario of the 3D Printing in Healthcare Market

In the present situation, the Covid-19 pandemic is boosting the awareness within the healthcare sector; especially in those who were not aware of how 3D printing is useful for the healthcare industry, beforehand. This clearly states that the rising awareness will lead to an augmented growth of the global 3D printing in healthcare market in the coming future. Moreover, several organizations in the 3D printing sector are likely to develop advanced techniques for enhanced 3D printing services and unlock rewarding opportunities for the growth of the market, post-COVID-19 pandemic. For instance, FabRx in April 2020 has launched M3DIMAKER, which is the first pharmaceutical 3D printer specially developed for the production of personalized 3D printer tablets known as Printlets.


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