The University of South Florida (USF) Health, Formlabs, a leading 3D printing company, and Northwell Health, New York’s largest healthcare provider, announced they have successfully produced and tested a 3D printed NP swab to address emergency shortages that hospitals and health care teams may face as testing for COVID-19 increases.
Formlabs is currently producing tens of thousands of swabs per day in its FDA-registered, ISO 13485 certified facility in Ohio, and is ramping up production to produce 100,000 swabs per day at peak capacity. Partnering with Laxmi Dental Laboratory Mumbai there is now a facility producing this clinically validated swab locally here in India.
Key milestones in testing the swabs were conducted by USF Health faculty researchers in the Departments of Radiology and Infectious Diseases in collaboration with Northwell Health, including validation testing (24-hour, 3-day, and leeching), and rapid clinical testing at Northwell Health and Tampa General Hospital. All testing showed that the 3D printed NP swabs perform equally to standard swabs used for testing for COVID-19.
Over the span of one week, the teams worked together to develop a NP swab prototype and test it in the USF Health and Northwell Health labs. In two days, USF Health and Northwell Health, using Formlabs’ 3D printers and biocompatible, autoclavable resins, developed prototypes. The swabs were tested by clinicians at Northwell Health, USF Health and Tampa General Hospital for patient safety and comfort.
“This is a prime example of the incredible impact we can have on human lives when teams of experts across academia, health care delivery, and the tech industry come together,” said Charles J. Lockwood, MD, MHCM, senior vice president for USF Health and dean of the USF Health Morsani College of Medicine. “During this current COVID-19 outbreak, there is little time for delay, and the swift, agile and adept action of everyone on this effort will greatly improve this nation’s ability to test patients.”
“Northwell Health is proud to collaborate with Formlabs and USF to address the global health crisis of COVID-19,” said Todd Goldstein, PhD, Director of Northwell Health 3D Design and Innovation. “When we saw that the testing kits were limited in supply, our 3D printing lab immediately changed focus from creating materials for surgeries to designing and creating materials that help our front line healthcare providers treating COVID-19 patients. In one weekend, we worked together to develop a NP swab prototype and test it in the lab..”
Formlabs’ CEO and co-founder, Max Lobovsky, said: “Formlabs has been working around the clock to provide assistance in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, and we’re hopeful that our efforts will help patients get the care they need. It is important that the medical devices we supply to medical professionals on the frontlines battling this disease are safe and work effectively so as not to put workers or their patients at risk. By working hand-in-hand with Northwell Health and USF Health to design and safely produce these swabs, Formlabs is providing a viable solution to the current shortage of nasopharyngeal (NP) swabs and can now produce them at scale to help hospitals better treat patients.”
By turning to proven 3D printing technology to improve production processes, shorten supply chains and localize manufacturing, healthcare providers can quickly and efficiently gain better access to the supplies they need to combat COVID-19.