• Unprecedented times call for unconventional thinking. 3D Systems is supporting the efforts to give new hope to Covid-19 patients in over-stretched Intensive Care Units.

    The coronavirus pandemic has placed an unbearable strain on health services around the world. In Italy, Europe’s worst hit area, the pressure on medical staff is immense. The stark reality is that in Intensive Care Units, many patients have severe breathing problems,  requiring dedicated respirators to keep them alive. But the sheer number of patients has left these respirators in desperately short supply.

  • Reimagining a Widely Available Product

    After speaking with a doctor from Chiari hospital in Brescia, in the epicentre of the country’s outbreak, former head physician Dr Renato Favero approached Isinnova, an Italian engineering company, with an idea. Reimagining a widely-available snorkeling mask into a mask that can be connected to a ventilating machine and used in Intensive Care Units.

    As inventors of the Easybreath mask, Decathlon was eager to assist and quickly sent over the original CAD drawings to see if the idea could be turned into a workable solution. 

  • Decathlon snorkeling mask part

    Duraform PA Charlotte and Dave valves for Decathlon Easybreath snorkeling masks.

  • Decathlon snorkeling mask parts produced

    Duraform PA Charlotte and Dave valves for Decathlon Easybreath snorkeling masks in depowdering phase.

  • The product was dismantled, studied, and the changes to be made were evaluated. A key element was to create parts that would allow the mask to connect to the breathing machine tubes that would help keep sick patients alive. Time was of the essence and that’s where 3D printing would play a vital role.

    Two valves – Charlotte and Dave – were designed by Isinnova and 3D printed in just a matter of days. After successfully testing them in the Chiari hospital, Isinnova made their designs freely available to the 3D printing industry, to assist other hospitals worldwide.

  • Circumventing Global Supply Challenges

    The ability to design and produce such high quality, life-critical parts in such short timescales shows the power of additive manufacturing. 

    To create the Dave and Charlotte valves, we use Selective Laser Sintering (SLS) 3D printers with DuraForm PA and DuraForm ProX PA, a nylon 12 material, which is biocompatible capable per ISO 10993-5 and ISO 10993-10 or USP Class VI testing standards. In order to make them air and liquid tight, a Dicthol sealant is also applied. 

    From receiving our first valve requests, we were able to deliver the parts printed, sealed, cleaned and packed in single plastic bags in just two days. The build time for 100 valves is 27 hours, which means 3D Systems is able to produce a new valve every 16 minutes.

    We have also acquired hundreds of Decathlon masks too – well in advance of demand. Since our facilities are production environments and not medical facilities, the most appropriate distribution method for these is for the masks, valves and assembly instructions to be boxed together for the relevant medical facility to assemble on receipt.

  • Playing our Part to Support Worldwide Efforts

    3D Systems has now refocussed production at our printing facility in Italy to support the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic. Every day, we’re in contact with hospitals and other bodies in Italy and throughout Europe, as we play our part in helping to see imaginative, life-saving solutions put into practice where they’re needed most.

  • Decathlon and 3D Systems team helping create valves for snorkeling masks in response to Covid-19

    3D Systems Italy Operations team.

“We are learning a lot very quickly, particularly in the area of respiratory systems so that, whenever possible, we can translate urgent requests from hospitals into practical part solutions that can be used to support their life-saving efforts.”
— Riccardo Nicastro, Business Development Manager Southern Europe – 3D Systems
  • Using Additive Manufacturing, we are able to produce a new valve every 16 minutes.


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.