Stratasys Ltd., the 3D printing company, says its own customer base prompted it to become involved in responding to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).
“We do a lot of 3D printers to medical facilities,” Justin McCurnin, vice president of marketing-Americas, said in an interview. “Our team was getting pinged. ‘What can you do to help?’”
COVID-19 is highly contagious and more potent than seasonal flu. Health care providers, including hospitals, needed face masks and other products to treat coronavirus patients.
The message Stratasys received from its medical customers was, “My traditional supply chains are not working,” McCurnin said.
Stratasys, based in Minneapolis and Rehovot, Israel, last month announced it formed a coalition of companies and universities to help produce face shields.
In the U.S., Stratasys is using its GrabCAD Shop work order management software to assign orders from health care systems to coalition members.
The company also is a sponsor of the CoVent-19 Challenge, an effort to generate new designs for ventilators, used for treating serious COVID-19 cases.
The CoVent-19 Challenge is seeking entries from teams and individuals. Finalists will work with Stratasys personnel to turn their designs into prototypes for testing. The competition is being run on Stratasys’ GrabCAD Challenge site.
McCurnin said Stratasys has been in contact with a variety of 3D printing users.
“It’s not just companies,” he said. “There was a kid in seventh grade that reached out. We’re seeing communities of people stepping up who print at home.”
Stratasys is looking at other moves.
“That’s what we’re talking about now,” McCurnin said. One possibility, he said is making molds for plastic injection molding of medical parts. “Some larger manufacturers taking advantage of their injection molding,” he said.