In the Fight Against COVID-19, Some Tools Are 3D-Printed
On college campuses nationwide, 3D printing has opened the floodgates of creativity, with students and faculty leveraging the technology for a range of educational uses in the years since the technology first came available. Now, with the healthcare industry facing critical supply shortages, higher education is elevating 3D printing from a creative endeavor to a potentially lifesaving one.
In recent weeks, faculty members at Northwestern University, for example, have fired up their high-speed printers to support first responders by churning out straps that hold plexiglass face shields in place. “The COVID-19 crisis has put a bright spotlight on the need for additive manufacturing,” says Northwestern chemistry professor Chad A. Mirkin. “We wanted to prove that this kind of 3D printing can make a difference, and we wanted to give back to the community.”
Northwestern is among the many colleges using 3D printing to produce protective gear on demand for medical workers. With many frontline healthcare personnel desperate for protective gear, the academic community.
With the students at home, “these machines would have just been sitting in the library doing nothing,” Treskon says. “The university saw a critical need for this, and there is also just a general altruistic sense of wanting to help.”