Despite the fact that many businesses and cities are reopening around the world, the threat of COVID-19 remains. This means that in order for things to reopen as safely as possible, the process needs to be gradual and reinforced with special measures, such as social distancing and personal protective equipment (PPE). The State of Texas is one region that is taking these precautions into account, and it is reportedly utilizing 3D printing resources to ensure that PPE production is sustained.
Essentium, a Texas-based 3D printing company, has already supplied over 60,000 3D printed face mask kits to the State of Texas. These kits consists of a reusable 3D printed mask frame made from Essentium PA, as well as replaceable, ASTM-certified filters. According to the company, its 3D printed face mask kits represent the equivalent of between 1.9 and 3.8 million individual masks.
The 3D printing company has been working closely with the Texas Division of Emergency Management, the Texas Military Department and other state-level groups to produce and supply PPE. In the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, the company shifted much of its production capacity in Texas towards making printed face masks, which are approved under the FDA emergency use authorization.
3D printing has been advantageous throughout the pandemic, in large part due to its production readiness. That is, while many industries and production supply chains were disrupted due to the virus, 3D printing has stepped in to meet supply chain shortages, especially in regards to face shields, masks and COVID-19 nasal swabs. Texas Governor Greg Abbott is one of the political leaders that has recognized the opportunity for AM to help meet critical demand.
Blake Teipel, Ph.D., CEO and Co-Founder of Essentium, stated: “The State of Texas is creating a potential blueprint for sustainable access to PPE. We are proud to be part of this initiative, and I commend Governor Abbott’s visionary leadership in setting a path of clarity and water-tight coordination in its creation and ensuring it is subject to the highest level of oversight.”
The 3D printed mask kits are expected to play a role in allowing Texas to hopefully reopen without creating a surge in COVID-19 cases.