3D Printing for COVID-19?

Since the COVID-19 pandemic, several 3D printing campaigns have launched or companies have used additive manufacturing technology to rapidly develop protective masks or spare parts needed for equipment such as ventilators. Even countries with highly developed health care systems are facing resource problems, additive manufacturing is an ideal technique to bring products quickly from idea to finished product. Nevertheless, 3D printed products still have to be tested and approved for the medical sector.

source: pixabay.com, PIRO4D

One of the first prominent actions was the oxygen valve which was manufactured for a hospital in Brescia / Italy. The original supplier was unable to meet the high demand, so the company Isinnova reverse engineered the valves and 3D printed them for the hospital.

The hospital used 3D printing to produce the valves. Photo via Isinnova.
Oxygen valves (Photo: Isinnova)

A production-ready respirator, the “Leitat 1”, was developed by a consortium comprised of HP, Seat, Navantia, Airbus, Consotrium Zona Franca Barcelona (CZFB) and led by the Leitat Technological Center. The respirator contains several 3D printed parts and the whole device has already been medically validated and tested in a hospital. The team named production numbers of 50-100 pieces a day now, and large-scale production is planned too. Additionally the team is already working on an improved version, the Leitat 2.

The team around the “Leitat” project (Photo: zfbarcelona)

Automotive industry

Manufacturers of the automotive industry have partly stopped production, but are using their capacities to produce medical equipment. Following are some examples:

  • Jaguar and Land Rover produce protective face shields.
  • The Volkswagen Group is working in collaboration with Airbus to produce 3D printed face shields.
  • Skoda uses their HP 3D printer to to produce respirators for front-line medical staff.
  • Ford is working with GE Healthcare to produce 50,000 simplified ventilators within the next 100 days.
  • GE  has started production of Level 1 surgical masks and FDA-approved ventilators.
  • Mercedes Benz announced to provide its resources to produce medical gear.
  • Tesla  is building ventilators for coronavirus patients out of their cars.
SKODA 3d printed respirator
CIIRC RP95-3D respirator mask (Photo: CTU)

3D printER manufacturers

Currently several 3D printer manufacturers are using their print farms to produce protective face shields like Stratasys, 3DSystems, PRUSA or BCN3D, the Global Center of Medical Innovations ( GCMI). Links to the mask files can be found at the end of the article.

Photocentric, a stereolithography 3D printer manufacturer produces several parts like face masks, ventilator valves and respirator masks.

respirator masks (Photo: Photecentric)

3D Systems published a list of solutions it is exploring as well as a FAQ section how 3D printing can be used for the COVID-19 outbreak.

Ultimaker has launched a community webpage to find help with design or production of medical gear or the ability to offer your help.

Formlabs produces nasal swabs for coronavirus testing.

3D printed Nasal swab for tests, source: formlabs.com

CAD Crowd started a design contest to produce 3D printing files. The contest involves creating products that will be shared under a publicly downloadable open source license (Creative Commons). The goal is to develop designs that can be quickly and affordably produced with 3D printing and/or off the shelf basic components (i.e. pre-made parts that are readily available).

Carbon is producing medical testing equipment as well as face shields.

Farsoon has made design files available for several 3D printable pieces of PPE equipment, find the links below.

To help defeat the COVID-19, in less than 24 hours CRP Technology has manufactured in-house several prototypes of emergency valves for reanimation device and link-components for emergency respiratory mask for assisted ventilation.

Currently products and ideas are brought up by companies and by private individuals and most of the models can be downloaded for free.
We list some different projects and print models here with links, so that you can print them at home, or if needed, request them from a 3D printing service provider.

This was the third part of our our series how plastics can protect us form the corona virus. If you missed part 1 or part 2 check them out too.


Face Shields:

Face shield by PRUSA

Face shield by BCN3D

Face shield by Photocentric

Face shield by GCMI

3D Systems

3D printable pieces of PPE equipment

Facial Mask Adjuster by Farsoon

Medical Safety Goggles (small and large) by Farsoon

Door Opener and Shopping Cart Handle

door opener

door opener by Materialise

shopping cart handles

Shopping Cart Holder
shopping cart handles

Protective Masks:



NanoHack 2.0 mask

Hopefully we were able to give you some new inputs. Don’t hesitate to share your thoughts and join the hubbub.

Peter & Herwig

Stay tuned and sign up for our monthly newsletter.

Can plastics protect us from the Coronavirus? (Part 2)

In part 1 of our Coronavirus series, we presented the half-life results (in hours) of the SARS-CoV-2 virus on different surfaces such as Polypropylene (PP), stainless steel, cardboard and in the air. In this post we present different plastic end-use applications helping to fight the Coronavirus pandemic.

Plastics for medical devices and personal protection equipment

Just a few weeks ago, plastics industry was mainly in the news for discussing single-use plastic bans and other measurements to minimize plastics use. However, the Coronavirus outbreak, which ended in a pandemic quickly changed the course of the discussions. The whole plastics industry, from polymer manufacturer to plastics processing companies, is being challenged to increase the supply of life-saving medical devices.

Following medical devices are made by the help of plastics and are currently in high demand:

  1. Plastics for medical devices (engineering and high heat performance polymers): components for respiratory equipment including humidifier housings, positive end-expiatory pressure (PEEP) chambers and connectors.
  2. Plastics for additive manufacturing: 3D printing solutions for face shield holding frames. Details of different additive manufacturing applications will be discussed in our third part of this series.
  3. Plastics for personal protection equipment: face shield films made out of several materials such as PET (single use) and Polysulfones (sterilization possible; multiple time use).
Plastics for personal protection equipment: face shield films made out of several materials such as PET (single use) and Polysulfones (sterilization possible; multiple time use). The face shields are stabilized by a 3D printed frame (Source: pixabay.com).

A lot of companies, although Covid-19 impacts themselves (low order intake; safety measurements), show great innovation spirit. They turn their current facilities into producing the much needed parts for ventilation, face shield, and masks.

For example in the US, Prent Corp. dedicated an entire thermoforming production line to make face shields. They extrude scratch-resistant, recycled PETG and shape it afterwards. The extrusion die was developed in just five hours. The main aim is to supply the face shields to the local hospital since it is suffering a personal protection equipment shortage.

Apart of masks and face shields, single-use gloves are needed too. Austrian based rubber product manufacturer Semperit AG quickly reacted. They donated more than 60 million gloves from their Sempermed production facility in Kamunting, Malaysia. Four flights, operated by Austrian Airlines, are needed to bring them to Europe.

Apart of masks and face shields, single-use gloves are needed too (Source: pexels.com).

Hands-free opening of doors

Another creative way on how plastics can prevent the Coronavirus to spread is the application “Freehander” made by moulding company Stolz & Seng. It is a two part system which is mounted over screws onto your door handle. The used plastic is resistant towards aggressive cleaning detergents. Furthermore, the used compound is equipped with a flame retardant which allows using the Freehander in public offices and houses. Stolz & Seng set up a webshop too where you can order the Freehander.

“Freehander” made by moulding company Stolz & Seng (Source: Freehander, Stolz & Seng)

What about our food?

Not only protecting ourselves with face shields and gloves is important. Also protecting the food from germs is vital during the corona crises. Different studies have been kicked off to investigate weather single-use plastics are suitable to protect food from the Coronavirus. The US based Plastics Industry Association wrote a letter to the US Department of Health in which they claimed that:

” single-use products are the most sanitary choice when it comes to many applications.”

What are the plastics industry leaders thinking?

Due to the Coronavirus crisis, the annual technical conference for plastics professionals was moved from San Antonio, US into the online domain. It was named “ANTEC® 2020: The Virtual Edition”. One of the major key note speakers was Mr. Jim Fitterling, CEO of Dow Inc. During his discussion which was led by Plastics News, he stated:

“I’ve never in my career seen a time when our industry was more necessary and indispensable in the fight that we have on display today.”

This statements sums up all the creative and innovate minds working in the plastics industry helping to ease the pain of the corona crisis. Polymeric materials play an important role in the fight against the Coronavirus and also when the Covid-19 crisis is over, plastics will continue to play an important role in our healthcare systems.

We hope to welcome you in part three again which will focus on how additive manufacturing is helping to combat the Coronavirus.

Hopefully we were able to give you some new inputs. Don’t hesitate to share your thoughts and join the hubbub.

Peter & Herwig

Stay tuned and sign up for our monthly newsletter.







Can plastics protect us from the Coronavirus? (Part 1)

Every country is now affected by the new SARS-CoV-2 virus which causes COVID 19. In many countries, measures have been taken to keep the spread of infections at a minimum. Numerous appeals by famous people call on fellow human beings adhere to social distancing as well as staying at home.

Arnold Schwarzenegger calls on people to stay at home.

Arnold also stays at home and only goes out for his workout or shopping. However, also when shopping, people should keep a distance of 1-2 meters to other people.

That’s why many people use online shopping more frequently and receive their goods in packages. Someone in the warehouse packs the items and someone else delivers the package. These are potential threats where the virus could get onto the package.

And that is the point on which this title focuses on: How long does the virus live on surfaces? Can we get infected when touching a surface or a packaging foil?

source: pixabay.com, PIRO4D

In a study by the National Institutes of Health, CDC, UCLA and Princeton University scientists in The New England Journal of Medicine, slightly different results were found.

The exact risk of virus transmission cannot be deduced from laboratory tests, as the experiments were carried out under controlled conditions.

After 30, 60, 120 and 180 minutes a gelatine filter was used to determine the virus concentration in the air. In another experiment, surfaces made of plastic (polypropylene), stainless steel (AISI 304), copper (99.9%) and commercial cardboard were sprayed and the virus concentration was determined after 1, 4 and 8 hours and after 1, 2, 3 and 4 days.

As well as in the air as on surfaces the viruses were detectable until the end of the experiments. However, their concentration decreased exponentially.

The half-life of the viruses in air was examined in 2 studies and gave different results.

The half-lives for SARS-CoV-2 and SARS-CoV-1 in the air were each 2.74 hours according to the publication in medRxiv. According to the results in the New England Journal of Medicine, the half-life for SARS-CoV-2 in air was only 1.09 hours (95% confidence interval 0.64 to 2.64 hours) and for SARS-CoV-1 1.18 hours (0.78 to 2.43 hours).

Half-life in hours of the SARS-CoV-2 virus on surfaces and in the air.

The half-live of SARS-CoV-2 on copper surfaces is 0.774 hours (0.427 to 1.19 hours). According to the current publication, no “viable” viruses could be detected after 4 hours. It took 3.46 hours (2.34 to 5 hours) on cardboard, 5.63 hours (4.59 to 6.86 hours) on steel and 6.81 hours (5.62 to 8.17 hours) on plastic until half the viruses had disappeared.

Viability of SARS-CoV-1 and SARS-CoV-2 in Aerosols and on Various Surfaces. (www.nejm.org)

Researchers from Singapore had examined samples from rooms in which patients with COVID-19 were accommodated. According to their report in JAMA, the viruses were detectable on the toilet bowl, washbasin and door handle to the bathroom, while all air samples tested negative.

The concentration of the viruses leading to an infection is also unknown at present. There are probably differences between individuals in this respect.

The National Institute for the Control and Prevention of Viral Diseases in Beijing reports in the American Medical Journal on the analysis of 1,070 samples of excretions taken from 205 patients with COVID-19.

The tests were positive in the bronchial lavage fluid to 93 %. This was followed in frequency by sputum (72 %), nasal swab (63 %), bronchoscopic brush biopsy (46 %), throat swab (32 %), stool samples (29 %) and blood samples (1 %). In contrast, none of 72 urine samples were positive.

In conclusion, the virus SARS-CoV-2 does not exist very long on surfaces like a packaging foil or on the package itself, made of cardboard. We do not recommend to be careless about touching surfaces, e.g. when being shopping, but the data shown above indicates the virus can not spread easily through surfaces. In the end we can be happy that plastics and other packaging materials protect goods like food or articles of daily use.

Hopefully we were able to give you some new inputs. Don’t hesitate to share your thoughts and join the hubbub.

Peter & Herwig

Stay tuned and sign up for our monthly newsletter.


N van Doremalen, et al. Aerosol and surface stability of HCoV-19 (SARS-CoV-2) compared to SARS-CoV-1. The New England Journal of Medicine. DOI: 10.1056/NEJMc2004973 (2020). link

Air, Surface Environmental, and Personal Protective Equipment Contamination by Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) From a Symptomatic Patient, JAMA, 2020; doi: 10.1001/jama.2020.3227 link

Detection of SARS-CoV-2 in Different Types of Clinical Specimens, JAMA. 2020; doi: 10.1001/jama.2020.3786 link