Formlabs’ 3D Printed Nasopharyngeal Test Swabs Honored as a World Changing Idea by Fast Company
In Fast Company's 5th annual awards program, Formlabs stood out as a Pandemic Response Finalist for its 3D printed swabs designed in one weekend that enabled over 40 million COVID-19 tests.
Somerville, MA, May. 04, 2021 – Today, Formlabs, a leading 3D printing company, was announced as a finalist in the Pandemic Response category of Fast Company’s 2021 World-Changing Ideas Awards. Among the innovative businesses, policies, projects, and concepts solving health and climate crises, social injustice, or economic inequality, Formlabs stood out with its 3D Printed Nasopharyngeal (NP) Swabs as a quick response to enable greater access to COVID-19 testing worldwide. At the peak of the pandemic last spring, Formlabs was producing 100,000 swabs a day at its Ohio-based printing facility. Since that time, over 40 million COVID tests worldwide have utilized NP swabs printed on Formlabs machines.
As COVID-19 swept across the globe in early 2020, Formlabs was uniquely positioned to implement a world-changing idea. Hospitals and medical device manufacturers were already using CT/MRI scans and Formlabs 3D printers and resins to create patient-specific parts such as physical models of patients’ anatomies and surgical guides. As the global supply chain shortages and the need for more medical equipment became clear, Formlabs worked with its medical partners across the country to support pandemic relief efforts with a 3D-printed nasal swab as well as a range of components for ventilation systems and personal protective equipment (PPE).
The traditional, synthetic flocked swab that was primarily manufactured in Maine and Italy went out of stock almost immediately after the pandemic hit the U.S., effectively precluding the COVID-19 testing needed for diagnosis and care. As an alternative, Formlabs worked with the University of South Florida (USF) Health and Northwell Health, the largest health system in New York State, to design a 3D-printed alternative in just one weekend. Designed both for sample collection effectiveness and with a breaking point that allows the swab to be easily placed in a vial and capped for lab testing, the swabs filled the enormous need created by supply chain interruptions. To date, health systems, government agencies, and medical device manufacturers using Formlabs printers around the world have produced tens of millions of swabs that are being used in 25+ countries around the globe. Formlabs’ 3D printed nasal swabs were one of the most produced 3D printed objects in history.
“Leveraging our in-house QA/RA and technical teams, we frequently work with clinical partners to accelerate, optimize, and de-risk their creation of 3D printed medical devices that solve unique challenges,” said Formlabs Director of Healthcare Gaurav Manchanda. “Formlabs has fostered a culture of trust, collaboration, and innovation between medical institutions and regulatory bodies that enabled our global network to become a stopgap during the swab shortage. For many of my colleagues, the first wave of the pandemic was spent working tirelessly to help hospitals in determining what was feasible, optimizing the printing process, securing the proper resins, and identifying ways to safely produce swabs, PPE, and ventilator components at scale.”
Dávid Lakatos, Formlabs Chief Product Officer, added: “The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the vulnerability of our current manufacturing and supply chain networks. Formlabs’ print farm acts as a bridge manufacturing tool that can be quickly and reliably deployed when traditional manufacturing methods falter due to supply chain breakdowns. As we continue to learn more about COVID-19 and build the infrastructure needed to protect against the next wave of the virus or even the next pandemic, Formlabs stands ready to support.”
Now in its fifth year, the World Changing Ideas Awards showcase 33 winners, more than 400 finalists, and more than 800 honorable mentions—with Health and Wellness, AI & Data among the most popular categories. A panel of eminent Fast Company editors and reporters selected winners and finalists from a pool of more than 4,000 entries across transportation, education, food, politics, technology, and more. Plus, several new categories were added, including Pandemic Response, Urban Design, and Architecture. The 2021 awards feature entries from across the globe, from Brazil to Denmark to Vietnam.
“There is no question our society and planet are facing deeply troubling times. So, it’s important to recognize organizations that are using their ingenuity, impact, design, scalability, and passion to solve these problems,” says Stephanie Mehta, editor-in-chief of Fast Company. “Our journalists, under the leadership of senior editor Morgan Clendaniel, have discovered some of the most groundbreaking projects that have launched since the start of 2020.”
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Formlabs is expanding access to digital fabrication, so anyone can make anything. Headquartered in Somerville, Massachusetts with offices in Germany, Japan, China, Singapore, Hungary, and North Carolina, Formlabs is the professional 3D printer of choice for engineers, designers, manufacturers, and decision makers around the globe. Formlabs products include the Form 3, Form 3B, Form 3L, and Form 3BL powered by an advanced form of stereolithography (SLA) called Low Force Stereolithography (LFS)™ 3D printing, Form Wash and Form Cure post-processing solutions, Fuse 1 SLS 3D printer, and Form Cell manufacturing solution. Through its Factory Solutions offering for industrial users, Formlabs provides the factories of tomorrow with the flexibility and versatility needed for demanding, evolving industrial applications. Formlabs also develops its own suite of high-performance materials that continue to push the boundaries for 3D printing, as well as best-in-class 3D printing software. For more information visit formlabs.com.
About the World Changing Ideas Awards
World Changing Ideas is one of Fast Company’s major annual awards programs and is focused on social good, seeking to elevate finished products and brave concepts that make the world better. A panel of judges from across sectors choose winners, finalists, and honorable mentions based on feasibility and the potential for impact. With the goals of awarding ingenuity and fostering innovation, Fast Company draws attention to ideas with great potential and helps them expand their reach to inspire more people to start working on solving the problems that affect us all.
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