Volkswagen explores using 3D printers to produce ventilators

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Italian hospital saves Covid-19 patients lives by 3D printing valves for reanimation devices

The world needs all the help it can get to curb the current coronavirus epidemic. German Automaker Volkswagen is doing its own part by pledging to contribute to global efforts to use 3D printing for the production of hospital ventilators.

The transportation facilitator made the announced on Friday that it would contribute to global efforts to use 3D printing for the production of hospital ventilators, in the fight to combat the coronavirus pandemic.

3D printing is fast becoming a viable option for replenishing depleted supplies for essential medical equipment needed to treat infected persons. To this effect, Governments around the world have sought to enlist automakers, including Ford, General Motors, Ferrari and Nissan, to ramp up production of ventilators and other medical equipment that face shortages and are critical to saving lives.

VW said in a statement that a task force was exploring how to use 3D printing to help manufacture ventilators.

The automaker has since integrated 3D printing into the manufacture of its cars. The firm currently has more than 125 industrial 3D printers and is in close cooperation with governments and other authorities to assess needs, a spokesman said.

“Medical equipment is a new field for us. But as soon as we understand the requirements, and receive a blueprint, we can get started,” Volkswagen said.

The company also pledged to donate protective face masks to clinics, health authorities and municipal authorities, in an agreement made with German Health Minister Jens Spahn.

The protective masks would come from VW’s own stock, which auto employees use for protection against harmful vapors.

Volkswagen and other German auto manufacturers are already reeling from the effects of the coronavirus, idling their European plants for the next few weeks.

VW announced on Friday that it would temporarily close its factories in Mexico in a bid to preserve public health, amid growing worries over the spread of the coronavirus in that country.

Individuals and companies with 3D printers have been printing valves needed for treatments. Patients are now being assisted in breathing by a machine that uses a 3D printed valve. As the virus inevitably continues to spread worldwide and breaks supply chains, 3D printers – through people’s ingenuity and design abilities – can definitely lend a helping hand. Or valve, or protective gear, or masks, or anything you will need and can’t get from your usual supplier.