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By Jeph Ruppert, Director, Application Innovation Group and Dustin Crouse, Application Innovation Group Development Engineer

Jeph Ruppert, Director, Application Innovation Group at 3D Systems Dustin Crouse, Application Innovation Group Development Engineer at 3D Systems

Additive manufacturing has the unique ability to produce critically needed parts cost effectively and at a moment’s notice. Therefore, the technology is well suited in times of crisis when traditional supply chains are disrupted. At 3D Systems, we have been developing several new applications as a result of the global COVID-19 pandemic. Most recently, the 3D Systems Application Innovation Group (AIG) teamed up with America Makes to execute on the Advanced Manufacturing Crisis Production Response (AMCPR) Program to field test several scenarios that illustrate the utility of additive manufacturing for rapid response.

The AMCPR Program was built to address strategic infrastructure needs in times of crises to drive end-to-end demand fulfillment on domestic soil with independence from foreign suppliers. The program includes the AMCPR Exchange, which is an online portal that connects those in need, designers of parts, and capable AM suppliers for manufacture. Through this Exchange, 3D Systems participated in two mock scenarios:

  • VHA to the Rescue! – The development, manufacture, and delivery of COVID-19 diagnostic swabs to hospitals in need
  • Blackhawk Down! – The development, manufacture, and delivery of a fuel elbow to the U.S. Army

Device Manufacturers Help Hospitals Deliver 3D Printing at Point of Care to Accelerate Crisis Response

3D Systems demonstrated its commitment to innovation last November when we collaborated with the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) to better serve Veterans with medical devices produced at the point of care. We continue to support the VHA as they establish FDA-compliant manufacturing facilities within its hospitals to produce additively manufactured medical devices. As part of this effort, the two teams collaborated on a COVID-19 diagnostic swab produced from 3D Systems’ SLS ProX 6100 printers in our Duraform ProX PA material.

When the call from AMCPR came, 3D Systems and the VHA were able to respond to the scenario to solve the shortage of COVID-19 test swabs. Each organization manufactured, packaged, and delivered the test swabs within a short timeframe to the requesting hospitals. With production on-site at the VHA and at 3D Systems’ own facility, the distributed manufacturing capability illustrates a scalable solution for rapid identification of critical needs, streamlined development, and testing of medical devices. It also demonstrates the ability to leverage greater manufacturing capacity from suppliers with appropriate regulatory and quality controls. 

COVID-19 diagnostic swab in sterile packaging made with Figure 4 Tough 60c White material

COVID-19 diagnostic swab in sterile packaging

Department of Defense Engages 3D Systems to Solve for Critical Component Supply in Tactical Helicopters

As COVID-19 shut down vital supply chains, the Army found itself in desperate need of more domestic suppliers and a rapid response workflow in times of crisis. Our engineers collaborated with AMCPR and the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command Aviation & Missile Center (DEVCOM AVMC) in testing the AMCPR Exchange and its role to enable rapid production by connecting designers and suppliers. The AIG manufactured and delivered three fuel elbows in under three weeks using 3D Systems’ full manufacturing solution, which includes our 3DXpert® software, LaserForm 316L SS verified laser parameters, DMP Flex 350 printing platform, as well as engineering expertise.

DMP Fuel elbows for tactical helicopters

Fuel elbows for tactical helicopters

As a Gold member of America Makes, 3D Systems will continue to leverage the AMCPR Exchange to bolster U.S. ingenuity when it comes to timely crisis response. How? Our AIG provides an ecosystem of AM solutions applying the design freedom of AM to reduce tooling costs, minimize stock levels, and contribute to supply chain resiliency. Covering everything from application development and frontend engineering to equipment validation, process validation, part qualification and production, 3D Systems’ helps those in need to transition to additive production at their own facilities through knowledge and technology transfer.

3D Systems’ AIG is here to help you understand the processes and materials that answer your needs for AM supply chain assurance. Contact our team for more information.