Worldwide, people are using ingenuity — and 3D printers — to deal with COVID-19 issues such as developing replacements for outdated parts or substitutes for high-quality masks. Idaho-based 3D printing companies are no exception.
“We have dedicated nearly 100 3D printers to producing plastic parts to help in the efforts,” said Gabe Bentz, CEO of Slant 3D, a Nampa-based 3D printer farm, in an email message. “These include simple aids to help with social distancing and avoiding contact with surfaces, to manufacturing masks.”
Can’t touch this
Normally, Slant 3D — which presented in February at the Investors Choice event in Salt Lake City — makes 10,000 to 15,000 parts per week of craft products, toys, small promotional products and small industrial products. But now it is turning its 3D printers to other uses.
For example, the company has developed plans for devices that allow people to open doors with either round or lever-style handles using their elbows rather than their hands. Another device lets people grab switches without having to touch them with their hands.
The items can be ordered by medical professionals as well as the general public, Bentz said.
In addition to printing out the devices themselves, Slant 3D has also released copies of the plans on its website to let people with 3D printers in other regions take advantage of the design.
The company is also working on plans to manufacture masks, Bentz said.
“We are working with a number of designers to get a mask, shield and ventilator pieces implemented as well,” he said. “Today we could produce nearly 1,000 masks per day if necessary. But the design process is taking some time to optimize them for additive production.”
Bentz also expressed interest in working with Idaho medical personnel on the products, both in design and use.
“If there are medical personnel in the valley that would have time to consult on design and function, that would be of great help,” he said. “If any medical professionals need assistance in this area, they should not hesitate to reach out.”l