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Mayo Clinic 3D printing stepping up to help supply chain

They can't just print a mask, but they are working on other options to help the supply chain.

GOLDEN VALLEY, Minn. — With the concerns in the supply chain, many folks are trying to come up with alternate solutions. That includes Mayo Clinic's 3D anatomic Modeling lab. While they can't just print masks, they are working on other options.

“It is all hands-on deck, every day, every week,” says Dr. Jonathan Morris with Mayo Clinic’s 3D printing lab.

It's not just the quote, unquote, front line personnel that have stepped up in the wave of COVID-19.

“Now that we have a pandemic, the ability to manufacture things in house has become essential,” says Dr. Morris.

Mayo's 3D printing lab normally makes anatomical models to help doctors prepare for surgery, but they are now looking for other ways to help the growing issue of lack of supplies.

"We found several possibilities and areas we could help, and those come into nasal swabs, which we're currently testing using 3d printing. As testing ramps up around the country, just like PPE, nasal swabs become a critical item to be able to do this testing in large scale population,” says Dr. Morris.

And while they can't print a 3D N95 mask, they are using their technology, combined with other medical 3D printers, and non-medical 3D printers around the state and country, to come up with fixes for things we already have.

“There are masks that exist, like 3M respirators that people have in the 10's of thousands, 100's of thousands, where you might only have to print the attachment to the canister that has the filter. There are groups in Texas, and in Boston, that have been using full-face diving masks, in order to 3D print just the attachment to the snorkel and put a filter on the top of it,” he says.

“We're working on multiple solutions, the nation has been working on multiple solutions,” adds Dr. Morris.

And, he says they can be up and running fairly quickly on any of these products, but they want to make sure they are making what people truly need, and not just printing to print.

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