3D Printing in COVID-19: Productivity Estimation of the Most Promising Open Source Solutions in Emergency Situations

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The COVID-19 pandemic has caused a surge of demand for medical supplies and spare parts, which has put pressure on the manufacturing sector. As a result, 3D printing communities and companies are currently operating to ease the breakdown in the medical supply chain. If no parts are available, 3D printing can potentially be used to produce time-critical parts on demand such as nasal swabs, face shields, respirators, and spares for ventilators. A structured search using online sources and feedback from key experts in the 3D printing area was applied to highlight critical issues and to suggest potential solutions. The prescribed outcomes were estimated in terms of cost and productivity at a small and large scale. This study analyzes the number and costs of parts that can be manufactured with a single machine within 24 h. It extrapolates this potential with the number of identical 3D printers in the world to estimate the global potential that can help practitioners, frontline workers, and those most vulnerable during the pandemic. It also proposes alternative 3D printing processes and materials that can be applicable. This new unregulated supply chain has also opened new questions concerning medical certification and Intellectual property rights (IPR). There is also a pressing need to develop new standards for 3D printing of medical parts for the current pandemic, and to ensure better national resilience.
Original languageEnglish
Article number4004
Number of pages15
JournalApplied Sciences
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 9 Jun 2020
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • coronavirus
  • additive manufacturing
  • rapid manufacturing
  • COVID-19
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • 3D printing
  • supply chain disruption
  • bridge manufacturing
  • PPE


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