June 26, 2020
This week, a spike in reported Coronavirus cases forced Texas Governor Greg Abbott to reverse course on reopening measure. “He closed bars, ordered restaurants to return to 50% capacity, shut river-rafting outfits, and gave local officials more control over large gatherings ahead of the Fourth of July holiday,” reported The Dallas Morning News. If the pattern continues, PPE shortage could hamper effective and timely treatment of seriously ill COVID-19 patients.
Essentium, an industrial scale 3D printer, recently shifted its Texas operations to manufacture protective face masks kits based designed approved by FDA for emergency use. The company is “now working with the Texas Division of Emergency Management, the Texas Military Department, and other groups at a State level,” according to its press release.
“If the need arises, we have the capability to increase production of mask kits that can be delivered with reliable and repeatable quality, at scale. We are doing this with a skilled team of designers, engineers and scientists working onsite in Pflugerville,” the company's press office said.
So far it has produced for the State of Texas more than 60,000 printed face mask kits, each with replaceable filters that extend its usable lifecycle.
Stratasys and 3D Systems, two leading 3D printer makers, also have ongoing initiatives to supply PPE to hospitals and medial institutions. These are also augmented by other efforts from academia and individual makers.