• When crucial medical parts that connect oxygen tubes to respiratory masks have run out, 3D printing can literally be a life-saver.

    The coronavirus pandemic has placed an unbearable strain on health services around the world. In many of Italy’s Intensive Care Units, the pressure on medical staff is immense. The inventive reimagination of Decathlon snorkeling masks as respirators is proving to be a great help. But some key components that connect oxygen tubes in hospitals such as Maria Vittoria, have run out.

  • Addressing Lack of Supply Issues

    We were first made aware of shortages through a non-profit organization assisting Maria Vittoria with their urgent, external needs. Having seen a recent LinkedIn post, they reached out to Riccardo Nicastro, Business Development Manager, Southern Europe, 3D Systems On Demand, to see if we could help.

    Initially, we were able to help them with the supply of Decathlon’s snorkeling masks and 3D printed valves that were already part of another crucial Covid-19 project we are supporting. But it soon became apparent that at Maria Vittoria hospital, a different component – one used to connect different sized oxygen tubes – had run out.

  • A sample parts platform just built and ready to be taken off the Figure 4 Modular system

    A sample parts platform just built and ready to be taken off the Figure 4 Modular system.

  • Sample connectors ready to be tested in the hospital

    Sample connectors ready to be tested in the hospital.

  • Fast Turnarounds Show that Anything is Possible

    The Operations Team at 3D Systems set to work to see how it could assist.

    We collected the original part from the hospital and brought it back to our facility at 11 am. We used a caliper to measure the part and then applied the relevant data into a CAD system before printing a completely new 3D plastic part, using our Figure 4 technology. The newly created part was then delivered to the hospital for successful testing at 7 pm.

  • Selecting the Right Technology and Right Materials

    To produce the parts needed to support this project we used our Figure 4 print technology that combines accuracy and amazing detail fidelity with ultra-fast print speeds, with Figure 4 PRO-BLK 10 material which is a production-grade plastic and is biocompatible capable per ISO 10993-5 and ISO 10993-10 test standards. Using Figure 4 technology, we can create eight parts like this in less than 30 minutes. 

    This project truly demonstrates the power of additive manufacturing and a digital workflow to quickly design a critical part application for testing and validation, and produce those parts on demand where and when needed.

    It’s an exercise that showed that, with the right passion, determination, technology and teamwork, anything is possible.

  • An original connector (translucent) and the 3D printed connector (black).

    An original connector (translucent) and the 3D printed connector (black).

“At the moment, we have a lot of spare capacity available to produce parts to support Covid-19 efforts in Italy and elsewhere. Our On Demand facility in Italy houses 3 Figure 4 machines and 17 SLS machines.”
— Riccardo Nicastro, Business Development Manager Southern Europe – 3D Systems On Demand
  • Using Figure 4 technology we can create 8 parts in less than 30 minutes, that means a production time of less than 4 minute per part.


The production of medical parts requires conformance with certain regulations.  The designs and parts discussed above do not have regulatory clearance at this time.  Any required validations and regulatory approvals are not the responsibility of 3D Systems but are the responsibility of the customer and/or user of the parts.  All parts ordered from 3D Systems are subject to 3D Systems’ Standard Terms and Conditions for Part Production Services available at https://www.3dsystems.com/part-production-services-terms-conditions.

Any design files or parts referenced or provided by 3D Systems relating to COVID-19 response support are provided “as-is” without any warranties or guarantees of any kind, including but not limited to, warranties of fitness for particular purposes, merchantability, or non-infringement. Design files for the manufacture of parts for medical use do not include any registrations or certifications. Users of finished parts or design files are solely responsible for their use and any applicable regulatory approvals (or exceptions thereto) and any claims of liability, including but not limited to products liability or intellectual property infringement, and will indemnify 3D Systems for any liability that may result from use of the design files or parts.