Supply chain disruption and a lack of resources has forced medical professionals gripped with the COVID-19 pandemic to make some impossible choices. Every region is working to contain and/or navigate the virus, but the healthcare industry has been strained. Supply shortages that are crippling nations will likely be felt in many other places, but one story coming out of Italy, via 3D Printing Media Network, shows how innovation, and 3D printing in particular is being used to help save lives.
The story comes from FabLab president and co-founder, Massimo Temporelli, translated from Facebook posts. A reporter told Temporelli that a hospital in Northern Italy was running out of valves used in a CPR tool, and the supplier couldn't make them fast enough. Without the valve, people would die. He reached out to his network and found Isinnova Founder and CEO Cristian Fracassi who brought a 3D printer to the hospital and within a few hours he reengineered the missing piece and started printing.
The valve was tested and it worked. As of Friday, March 14, 10 patients had CPR machines with 3D printed valves.
According to the report from 3D Printing Media, after the first ten valves were printed, another local company, Lonati, used a laser powder bed fusion 3D printer to manufacture many more parts.
Temporelli has opened up the Italian Lab network to other hospitals in the event that they are impacted by the shortages, and 3D printed parts could help as a stopgap in supply chain disruption.
Cristian Fracassi says that while he acted quickly, it's only because of 3D printers that he could manufacture a small production run that would be impossible on an industrial scale. If anything, Fracassi wants people to remember that a community of professionals raced against time and saved lives. Other than that, he wants the focus put on the real heroes, the medical workers putting in long shifts to help keep people alive.