Leveraging 3D printing capacity in times of crisis: Recommendations for COVID-19 distributed manufacturing for medical equipment rapid response

Albert Manero, Peter Smith, Amanda Koontz, Matt Dombrowski, John Sparkman, Dominique Courbin, Albert Chi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

57 Scopus citations


The SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) pandemic has provided a unique set of global supply chain limitations with an exponentially growing surge of patients requiring care. The needs for Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for hospital staff and doctors have been overwhelming, even just to rule out patients not infected. High demand for traditionally manufactured devices, challenged by global demand and limited production, has resulted in a call for additive manufactured (3D printed) equipment to fill the gap between traditional manufacturing cycles. This method has the unique ability to pivot in real time, while traditional manufacturing may take months to change production runs. 3D printing has been used to produce a variety of equipment for hospitals including face shields, masks, and even ventilator components to handle the surge. This type of rapid, crowd sourced, design and production resulted in new challenges for regulation, liability, and distribution. This manuscript reviews these challenges and successes of additive manufacturing and provides a forward plan for hospitals to consider for future surge events. Recommendations: To accommodate future surges, hospitals and municipalities should develop capacity for short-run custom production, enabling them to validate new designs. This will rapidly increase access to vetted equipment and critical network sharing with community distributed manufacturers and partners. Clear guidance and reviewed design repositories by regulatory authorities will streamline efforts to combat future pandemic waives or other surge events.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number4634
Pages (from-to)1-17
Number of pages17
JournalInternational journal of environmental research and public health
Issue number13
StatePublished - Jul 2020


  • 3D printing
  • COVID-19
  • PPE
  • Social networks

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pollution
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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