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Healthcare, tech industries team up to create 3D printed nasal swabs for COVID-19 testing

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Posted at 5:15 PM, Mar 29, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-29 19:31:58-04

TAMPA, Fla. — Test kits for COVID-19 are in high demand across the country as states battle the coronavirus outbreak.

Two weeks ago, Dr. Summer Decker, an associate professor and the director of 3D Clinical Applications for USF Health, says their Dean alerted them to a shortage of nasal swabs for test kits.

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“He asked if there was a potential looking at creating a 3D printed alternative," said Dr. Decker.

A partnership formed between USF Health, Tampa General Hospital, Northwell Health in New York and 3D printing company Formlabs.

In about two weeks, the team went from design conception to testing the product in clinical trials.

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"We’re able to print in mass at this point, and that way we can get from our lab alone about 3,000 a day,” said Decker.

Northwell Health explained they have the capability to print 2,000 to 3,000 swabs a day with printers running 24/7.

The chief product officer at Formlabs says their 3D printers at their facility in Ohio have the capability to make 100,000 swabs a day.

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"I think because we’re all fighting the same problem at the same time and looking for solutions as quickly as possible," said Gaurav Manchanda, Director of Healthcare at Formlabs. "It’s really just removed all barriers.”

Northwell Health finished its testing and their team started to print swabs ready for distribution.

Dr. Decker says Tampa General and USF Health are still doing clinical trials.

"It will actually save lives knowing how we can diagnose people quicker," said Decker.