How to Help with COVID-19
Ways to Help with COVID-19
We know that, like us, you are probably thinking about ways in which to help those around you during these trying times. Over the last few days, our team has received countless inquiries about how to get involved with assisting hospitals or communities in need of medical supplies. We've put this page together to help answer some of these questions:
We have asked ourselves many of these same questions recently, and it has helped us determine where TriMech can make the most significant impact as well, so we hope you find it helpful. In addition to the greater effort, we at TriMech also remain committed 100% to helping your business in any way possible.
How Can I Help?
A want and willingness to help is fantastic! We understand it's easy to get excited and want to start 3D printing ventilators, respirators or face shield designs, but there is a lot to consider before doing this. We want to offer some words of caution.
While some of these designs are well thought out, it's important not to forget that these items are medical devices and the current commercial solutions that are in short supply are certified solutions regulated by various governing bodies. Grabbing a design offline and printing it can be a wasted effort and even dangerous if the printed part does not meet the needs of the healthcare community. Even if the part meets all requirements and is a fully vetted solution, it is not valuable unless it is needed. If there isn’t the local and immediate need for the item you produced, the chances are it will not be used, wasting time and materials.
What Should I be Asking?
Instead of just asking yourself, "How can I help?" we came up with these questions that can help point you in the right direction and provide assistance exactly where needed.
- Who around me might need my assistance?
- Do these people have a need and have means of distributing what they need?
- Do the parts being produced require FDA or other approvals to be used?
- What products/services do I have that can help fill these needs?
- Are there programs in place to 3D print medical devices?
Who around me might need my assistance?
Healthcare providers, hospitals and medical universities are a good place to start. Reaching out to these institutes can help answer most of your questions, but understand, they are extremely busy and in some geographic areas are overwhelmed.
Do these people have a need and have means of distributing what they need?
Most healthcare networks and medical universities will already have task forces looking into their inventories and making estimates as to which supplies will run short. Many are making plans for how materials can be acquired and distributed. Plans for using local manufacturing might already be in place.
Do the parts being produced require FDA or other approvals to be used?
The processes, materials and designs of these parts often require approval before they can be used in a medical setting. Many healthcare networks are partnering with universities and governing bodies to expedite approvals; however, many parts will still need to be fully tested and approved to be used.
What products/services do I have that can help fill these needs?
This is an area where you must be honest about your abilities; many of the decision- makers and key players in this space are very busy right now. If you do not have the capacity/abilities to produce quality parts that meet the requirements of the project then you do not want to waste anyone’s time. As hard as it may sound, staying healthy and following government recommendations to slow the spread of COVID-19 is a noble way to help your communities.
Are there programs in place to 3D print medical devices?
In the past few weeks, many organizations and individuals have volunteered to 3D print medical supplies. Before you join any group or program, we encourage you to thoroughly research such programs and make sure they are legitimate, well organized and part of an officially recognized organization if possible.
Stratasys, one of our partners, is currently leading a great program to help 3D print medical supplies. They are providing multiple ways for volunteers to get involved. For more than 30 years, Stratasys has been a leader in the 3D printing industry around the world, developing various technologies that have largely contributed to the advancement of many industries, including medical. We recommend you continue reading below to find out how you could get involved in their program and contribute to your local healthcare providers.
How can I get involved?
One immediate resource that is available that we would recommend is Stratasys. They are spearheading an effort to bring companies together to use 3D printing to provide visors to healthcare professionals. Hundreds of volunteers across the country have joined this effort and there is a need of more than 300,000 visors.
If you would like to join their effort, please reach out to them here.
- If you have a 3D printer and can produce visors in batches of 100 but do not have a customer to send those to, you can ship them to the Stratasys headquarters in Minnesota and they will send to medical facilities. Here's what do to next:
- Download the Visor Manufacturing Package and test print.
- Upon understanding your available printers and quantities you are able to donate, you will receive an invitation to register for GrabCAD Shop where you will receive orders for printing as received from the medical community. GrabCAD Shop creates a distributed manufacturing system where Stratasys can submit jobs to you and you can submit updates. Click here to send them an email and get set up.
- If you are already working with a local facility and can both 3D print and source the visor, you can download the Visor Manufacturing Package. You can also sign up for GrabCAD Shop and Stratasys can distribute these for you.
We at TriMech are joining the Stratasys efforts and are also trying to be flexible and offer to fill in needs as they arise from local healthcare providers and universities. While it is difficult for us to lead a charge like Stratasys has, we do span over 25 states and are continuing to keep our ears to the ground to listen to the needs of our clients and communities.
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