3D Printing of Key Medical Neccessities - Additively Manufactured Nasal Swabs

3D Printing Studios | Success Story

3D Printing of medically-safe, reliable Nasal Swabs in COVID-19 Pandemic Times

 

Additive manufacturing ensures quick and cost-effective production of medically-safe nasal swabs for COVID-19 test kits. The Australian company 3D Printing Studios is the first supplier in the country of these essential medical devices in the current time.

With the support of EOS P 396 3D printer, as well as the biocompatible and sterilizable polymer material EOS PA 2200, the sudden need of key medical devices can be satisfied in a very short time.

"We have been able to 3D print nasal swabs used for testing COVID-19 and other communicably transmitted diseases by using EOS AM systems. These swabs have a special head design with flocking added and have recently been shown to successfully collect sufficient human cellular material and mucus used in COVID-19 and other testing processes."

Howard Wood & Stuart Grover | Owners of 3D Printing Studios

Additive Manufacturing ensures Production of Medical Supplies

In order to meet the sudden demand for key medical supplies during the COVID-19 pandemic, many countries and businesses have turned to local manufacturers and alternate manufacturing technologies like additive manufacturing. 

There is an urgent need to design new medical devices that are reliable and can be efficiently mass manufactured with 3D printing. It exists a sudden surge in demand for new products such as PPE (face shields, eye protectors etc.), ventilators and - in that case - nasal swabs.


In Australia, 3D Printing Studios quickly worked with the state government and health departments to produce medical nasal and throat swabs for use in COVID-19 test kits.

3D printed Medical Nasal Swabs for Covid-19 test - Source: 3D Printing Studios

"We’ve tried several different 3D printed designs obtained from Harvard Medical School and finally came up with a simple design that is flocked with a safe nylon material. The design, coupled with the EOS P 396 system, will allow us to produce thousands of these medical swabs per day."

Howard Wood | 3D Printing Studios

The Result at a Glance

  • 4 weeks from project start to final production
  • 2 days for providing the design samples
  • 5000 nasal swabs produced per day

Challenge

Due to the outbreak of COVID-19, there has been a sudden disruption in the global supply chain for key medical supplies, resulting in shortages of test swabs to Australia. Coupled with the sudden surge in demand for COVID-19 test kits, the Australian government reached out to local manufacturers for support. 

As the traditional manufacturing of nasal swabs may require the development of hard tooling, which can take several iterations and months to complete, additive manufacturing has been considered to help address the immediate short-term demand surge for PPE and nasal swabs. 

Solution

3D Printing Studios is leveraging their experience with additive manufacturing to help speed up the design and production of nasal swabs for COVID-19 test kits. The biocompatible polymide material EOS PA 2200 was selected due to the known stability and reliability of its mechanical properties after sterilization by autoclave or radiation process. 


Additive manufacturing enables agile design and quick evaluation cycles of the nasal swabs. This quickly compresses the time required for product development, engineering production trial and functional lab trials of the test kits. 


In addition, the EOS P 396 system was selected to manufacture the nasal swabs, as this AM technology was most cost-effective when compared to other additive manufacturing technologies.

EOS P 396
EOS P 396 - Source: EOS

Result

3D Printing Studios is delighted to be the first Australian company to manufacture medical nasal swabs.

South Australian Pathology, an organization providing diagnostic and clinical pathology services throughout South Australia for the public health sector, has tested the latest 3D printed swabs and has given the green light on their use.

This makes 3D Printing Studios the first Australian supplier of these essential products in the fight against COVID-19. It will reduce the need to import these vital products and once again start bringing manufacturing back to Australia.

The whole process of developing and testing the 3D printed nasal swabs only took a few weeks. The final nasal swab design not only collects the human cellular material from the nasal passage, it also allows for testing of other communicable diseases.

3D printed Medical Nasal Swabs for Covid-19 test - Source: 3D Printing Studios
  • Additive manufacturing enables agile design cycles. A total of 11 design iterations were tested, with only 4 weeks from project initiation to final production confirmation.
  • The nasal swabs can be customized for product functionality with regard to size and flexibility.
  • No hard tooling cost incurred during product development and production.
  • Overnight production with minimum supervision was possible due to the reliability of the EOS products.
  • Upon clinical trial and evaluation, the revised design samples are provided within 2 days.
  • Minimum manpower involvement and direct interaction during COVID-19 period, as the digital design discussions and text evaluation feedback were done online. Only two production personnel were required on site.
  • The high productivity of the EOS P 396 system means that 5 000 nasal swabs can be produced per day.

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