St. Luke’s Partners with Local Business to Produce 3D Printed Masks

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St. Luke’s and Filament Innovations of Coplay, as well as 3D manufacturer ProtoCAM of Allentown, have teamed up to produce 3D printed masks and face shields for health care providers in the wake of COVID-19.

“We’ve been following the news in Europe related to medical supplies, and I knew we had to act quickly,” said Megan Augustine, Director of St. Luke’s University Health Network’s Simulation Center.

Coronavirus

Credit: CDC/ Alissa Eckert, MS; Dan Higgins, MAM

This illustration by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reveals the ultrastructural morphology exhibited by coronaviruses. Spikes cover the outer surface of the virus, which impart the look of a corona (crown) surrounding the virion, when viewed electron microscopically. A novel coronavirus, named Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), was identified as the cause of the outbreak of respiratory illness first detected in Wuhan, China, which triggered the 2019-2020 COVID-19 pandemic.

She began working with her team and the 3D printing community to custom print N95 respirator masks, additional masks and face shields–some of the highest-demand protective products for health care workers.

“These masks and face shields reduce the risk of airborne transmission from an actively sick patient to the individuals providing care,” said Kara Mascitti, MD, St. Luke’s Medical Director of Health Care Epidemiology and Infection Prevention. “By helping keep our doctors, nurses and health care teams safe, it helps prevent the spread to their loved ones and others.”

Conservation of these supplies is critical to fighting COVID-19.

“We are about to run a supply chain logistics marathon and we are looking at creative, alternate solutions for supplies like masks,” said Augustine.

The masks currently being printed at St. Luke’s could be custom-fitted to an individual’s face, maximizing protection. Due to the materials they are printed with, options are being researched for their sterilization and reuse.

“Because of COVID-19, we are seeing a strain on the supply chain. We are asking ourselves ‘how do we rethink the manufacturing of these items?’” said Michael Gorski, PhD, MBA, owner and founder of Filament Innovations, a local 3D Printer manufacturer. “This process is showing what local manufacturing can do right here in the Lehigh Valley by utilizing 3D Printing, an advanced manufacturing method. We all want to do what we can for our community.”

“The care of our patients is number one,” reiterated Augustine. “This (pandemic) is a reality for all of us. We are working with everyone to be prepared for a potential shortage. We are always looking for innovative ways to provide care and we are doing it.”

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