Market News 3D-printed nasal swabs for testing for Covid-19

Editor: Steffen Donath

3D printing continues to find new ways to support the fight against Covid-19. Formlabs has teamed up to produce nasal swabs for testing.

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Formlabs has been working hard to provide support during the current outbreak.
Formlabs has been working hard to provide support during the current outbreak.
(Source: Formlabs)

The University of South Florida (USF) Health, Formlabs, a 3D printing company, and Northwell Health, New York's largest healthcare provider, announced that they have successfully produced and tested a 3D printed nasal swab to address emergency bottlenecks that hospitals and healthcare teams may face as testing for Covid-19 increases.

The key milestones in testing the smears were achieved by researchers from the USF Health faculty in the radiology and infectious disease departments in collaboration with Northwell Health. These included validation testing (24 hours, 3 days and leeches) and rapid clinical testing at Northwell Health and Tampa General Hospital. All tests showed that the 3D printed nasal swabs performed as well as standard swabs used for Covid-19 testing.

After determining that the nasal swabs used to test for Covid-19 were in high demand and the supply was extremely limited, a team from USF Health’s 3D Clinical Applications Department created a preliminary design. The team worked with Northwell Health and Formlabs to develop prototypes and safe materials for a 3D printed alternative. Within a week, the teams jointly developed a nasal swab prototype and tested it in the USF Health and Northwell Health laboratories. Within two days, USF Health and Northwell Health developed prototypes using Formlabs’ 3D printers and biocompatible, sterilisable resins. The swabs were tested for patient safety and comfort by physicians from Northwell Health, USF Health and Tampa General Hospital. Once clinical validation is complete, USF Health and Northwell Health's 3D printers will produce the swabs and make them available to their patients.

“This is a prime example of the incredible impact we can have on people’s lives when teams of experts from academia, healthcare and the technical industry come together,” said Charles J. Lockwood, MD, MHCM, Senior Vice President of USF Health and Dean of USF Health Morsani College of Medicine.

“When we were informed by Dr. Lockwood about the lack of smear tests, we immediately began working as a team to create a novel design in a printed material. This has proven safe for patients, as has Formlabs' surgical resin,” said Dr. Summer Decker, Associate Professor at USF Health Morsani College of Medicine and Director of 3D Clinical Applications in the Radiology Department of USF Health.