Material companies contribute to the fight against COVID-19

The corona crisis is becoming increasingly challenging; there is a serious shortage of medical masks for our aid workers, a shortage of hospital beds is imminent, the economy is struggling, we must avoid new infections. In this period, cooperation is therefore becoming more and more crucial. Everyone has a part to play. That is also what the material community believes. For instance, several 3D printing companies are working on solutions to fight the coronavirus. Unseen situations demand creative solutions and let that be one of the USP's of Additive Manufacturing. This article lists a few initiatives.

Stop the spread of germs

To prevent any further spread of germs like the coronavirus, Materialise designed a hands-free 3D printed door opener.  The printed door opener can be fastened to door handles, making it easy to open a door with your forearm. This innovative solution reduces the risk of contamination in the daily task of opening and closing doors. Materialise made the design file available free of charge on the company website. This way, factories and makers all over the world can locally print the door openers. You don't have a 3D printer? You can order a package with screws online. The idea is in line with the mission of Materialise to create a better and healthier world.

Share knowledge

In addition to specific innovative solutions, many requests for cooperation also arise. These include, for example, people designing useful tools, but need help with a possible application of their design. Michael Müller calls for the reduction of supply shortages in the medical sector by thinking creatively about possible applications of already existing products. These include products that can address shortages of ventilation equipment, masks and other equipment needed to save lives. He designed his own 3D printed peristaltic pumps that use standard components such as a NEMA17 stepper motor, skateboard bearings, a silicone tube and an Arduino controller. If anyone thinks this may be useful, please contact him. Further technical specifications about the product can be found here. In addition, the manufacturing community is trying to organise itself into different groups to see how 3D printing can help produce items that could potentially save lives. Info and initiatives can be found on this Facebook group or the Coronavirus Tech Handbook.

Help the economy

Everyone is looking for solutions that may help the medical sector and affected patients. That is a good thing, but what after the crisis? How do we keep the economy operating as much as possible in order to minimise the serious financial consequences of the virus? Here too, 3D printing can offer a solution. Parts that are difficult or impossible to deliver due to the virus can be ordered and printed by the many 3D service providers in Belgium and the Netherlands. Are you looking for a company that can print your product? Contact Flam3D, a division of SIM. Flam3D provides neutral, independent advice on where to go.

Provide medical masks

There is a clear shortage of medical masks for our aid workers. To prevent care providers from having to expose themselves to the infection, Timelab calls on the 3D printing community to massively print medical masks. On their website, they provide a free design for 3D printing a medical mask. It is a mask with a separate textile inlay to keep it sterile. The fabric of the inlay has to meet special requirements. Other designs can also be found in the Coronavirus Tech Handbook.

Receive support for innovative corona solutions

The European Commission is calling for startups and SMEs with innovative solutions to tackle the coronavirus outbreak to apply urgently to the next round of funding from the European Innovation Council. Specifically, they are looking for technologies and innovations that could help in treating, testing, monitoring or other aspects of the coronavirus. The deadline for applications to the EIC Accelerator is Wednesday 18 March at 17h00. In total, it concerns a budget of 164 million euros for corona innovation. The call is 'bottom-up', so no thematic priorities are predefined and applicants with corona innovations will be evaluated in the same way as other applicants. Nevertheless, the Commission will look to fast track the awarding of EIC grants and blended finance (combining grant and equity investment) for corona innovations. In addition, they will facilitate access to other funding and investment sources. The EIC is already supporting a few start-ups and SMEs with relevant innovations for the coronavirus: EpiShuttle for specialised isolation units, m-TAP for filtration technology and MBENT for tracking human mobility during epidemics.


More information on this call can be found here.