Technological watch

How Plastic Industry is Putting Up Fight Against COVID-19

In the wake of Coronavirus pandemic, plastic industry has come together as one and is fighting back with innovative product development and new technologies. Major OEMs are coming up with protective gears and equipment to help the first responders and patients. Companies are also providing their 3D printing capacity to develop PPEs and other equipment.
Industry giants are ready to take all measures and support medical staff and are continuously fulfilling the demand and supply gap. From developing new products to sending required equipment as donations companies have proven to be a major support.
Let’s explore the recently developed products and innovations that are helping in the fight of humanity against COVID-19.
3D Printing Personal Protective Equipment
3D printing stands out in the current situation with its ease of processing and design freedom. From different universities to major manufacturers, teams are developing needed products efficiently.
Stratasys Produces 3D-printed Face Shields
Stratasys has 3D-printed frame and a clear plastic shield that covers the entire face to combat COVID-19. This includes both a 3D-printed frame and a clear plastic shield that covers the entire face. The company will have the ability to scale to an even faster rate of production. This is to globally mobilize the company’s 3D printing resources and expertise to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, spanning its Stratasys, GrabCAD, Stratasys Direct Manufacturing and partner network with donated printing capacity across all regions. The initial focus is on providing thousands of disposable face shields for use by medical personnel.
Stratasys has scores of professional 3D printers available to apply to the challenge of producing shields at scale, particularly across its Stratasys Direct Manufacturing facilities, which are based in Eden Prairie, Minn., in and around Austin, Texas, and Valencia, Calif. Stratasys has set up a web page where organizations can request 3D printed products to help with the crisis, offer 3D printing capacity, or request 3D printers or material for medical- or safety-related purposes.
Solvay Supplies High-performance Transparent Film to Boeing
Solvay is supplying high-performance, medical-grade transparent film to Boeing to produce face shields. Boeing approached Solvay due to its experience in the use of advanced composite and adhesive materials on multiple commercial and defense programs.
The thermoplastic film will be used by Boeing in the production of thousands of face shields critically needed by hospitals and medical workers in the U.S. to protect them from the COVID-19 virus. The film will be manufactured using Solvay’s medical-grade Radel® PPSU or Udel® PSU, two transparent specialty polymers widely used for medical devices because of their ability to be sterilized and withstand aggressive disinfectants.
Eastman Provides PETG Film for Face Shields
Recently Eastman and Tennessee Higher Education Commission co-developed PETG film-based face shields for medical personnel. Eastman donated enough rolls of PETG film, a copolyester commonly used for rigid medical packaging and medical devices, to produce 10,000 face shields. Face shields have become an essential tool for protecting personnel in medical fields and others on the front lines of battling the epidemic. The shields protect people from droplets produced by coughing and sneezing and can help prevent workers from touching their faces.
In addition to contributing to the THEC collaboration, Eastman employees around the globe are playing a critical role in other relief efforts. The partnership came after THEC informed Eastman they had used and exhausted all the local supply of acetate sheet – the large, clear plastic shield that attaches to the headband – from local retailers. Together, the goal was to produce 10,000 face shields in two weeks using 3D printers at colleges and universities around the state.
AIMPLAS Develops Replaceable Filters for Face Shields On the other hand, AIMPLAS is developing masks with replaceable filters using injection molding processes and are manufacturing protective face shields to distribute in the hospitals. AIMPLAS is working to make its knowledge of materials, its capacity for design, prototyping and manufacture, and its material resources available to the public authorities and health authorities in order to facilitate supply of personal protective equipment (PPE). AIMPLAS has therefore created its own design and contacted companies and vocational education and training centers (e.g. VICEDO and Escuelas San José) about manufacturing the molds.
In addition, experts from AIMPLAS are cutting and supplying transparent PET sheets from a reel donated by MANUFACTURAS ARPLAST to manufacture protective face shields and distribute them to hospitals. Hospitals in Madrid have also been given the contact details of PET sheet suppliers.
Lending Additive Manufacturing Capacities and Expertise
Companies like HP Inc., Lamborghini and Mercedes-Benz are offering their 3D printing expertise to develop PPE like face masks, ventilators or face shields for the first responders.
Mercedes-Benz group has offered its support with the production of medical equipment. With the aid of 3D printers, individual components can be produced that are urgently needed in medical technology as a result of the current COVID-19 pandemic. With the highly competent team and years of experience in 3D printing technology, Mercedes-Benz contributing to the production of medical devices. The expertise and specialist knowledge as well as 3D printers are available for production.
Lamborghini goes a step further and develops lung simulators to support SIARE Engineering International Group. The breathing simulator enables the tester to carry out an initial evaluation of the ventilator’s performance before reaching the final testing stage, when the ventilator undergoes a comprehensive test using certified equipment. In just two weeks, Lamborghini has used its 3D printing laboratory to design, produce and validate the simulator, optimizing the components and enabling the production of 18 simulators per week, alongside the production of medical visors in polycarbonate, also with 3D printing, using an HP Jet Fusion 3D 4200 printer with MJF technology capable of printing with a 0.08 mm precision level.
HP Inc. and its global digital manufacturing community are mobilizing their 3D printing teams, technology, experience, and production capacity to help deliver critical parts in the effort to battle the COVID-19 pandemic. HP’s 3D R&D centers are collaborating with partners around the world to increase production to meet the most urgent needs. Initial applications being validated and finalized for industrial production include face masks, face shields, mask adjusters, nasal swabs, hands-free door openers, and respirator parts.
Testing COVID-19 Patients with Ease
The University of South Florida (USF) Health, Formlabs and Northwell Health have successfully produced and tested a 3D printed nasal swab to address emergency shortages that hospitals and health care teams may face as testing for COVID-19 increases. After identifying that nasal swabs for testing COVID-19 were in high demand and extremely limited in supply, a team from the USF Health’s 3D Clinical Applications Division created an initial design, working with Northwell Health and collaborating with Formlabs to develop prototypes and secure materials for a 3D printed alternative.
For one week, the teams worked together to develop a nasal swab prototype and test it in the USF Health and Northwell Health labs. In two days, USF Health and Northwell Health, using Formlabs’ 3D printers and biocompatible, autoclavable resins, developed prototypes. The swabs were tested by clinicians at Northwell Health, USF Health and Tampa General Hospital for patient safety and comfort. Now that clinical validation is complete, 3D printers at USF Health and Northwell Health will produce the swabs and provide them to their patients.
Resolution Medical has launched Medical Lattice Swab that exhibits a conformal lattice design made with Carbon’s Lattice Engine software. The hollow structure of the lattice is designed for specimen collection efficiency, with a geometry that is also flexible to promote functionality and comfort for patients. The product is now undergoing clinical evaluation by clinicians at multiple institutions.
Fulfilling the Need of Ventilators
The researchers from Northwell Health have successfully designed the protocol to turn the more common bi-level positive airway pressure (BiPAP) machine into a functional invasive mechanical ventilator, through a 3D printed adaptor to overcome shortage of critical mechanical ventilators. The key component to converting the BiPAP machine is a small, plastic T-piece adapter. Researchers have successfully tested the conversion of the BiPAP machine using the standard, non-3D printed adaptor for both COVID-19 and non-COVID-19 patients.
Xerox and Vortran Medical have co-developed GO2Vent ventilator and related Airway Pressure Monitor (APM-Plus) for hospitals and emergency response units fighting the battle against COVID-19. Vortran’s GO2Vent was designed for emergency use, natural disasters and disease outbreaks such as the COVID-19 pandemic. A gas-operated, disposable ventilator that can be set-up within minutes and discarded after use by a single patient, it provides support via a secure airway and can be operated on a compressor, oxygen or air with a minimum of 10 liters per minute flow rates.
Other Product Innovations
Lubrizol’s ESTANE® 3D TPU M95A powder TPU has passed skin sensitization and cytotoxicity tests in accordance with ISO 10993-5 and 10993-10. This enables ESTANE® 3D TPU M95A to be a valuable material solution for product designers exploring 3DP for end-use applications that require skin contact including personal protection devices so urgently needed right now to protect responders and caregivers fighting the COVID-19 battle.
SABIC has launched a non-chlorinated and non-brominated opaque sheet, LEXAN™ CLINIWALL™ AC6200. The sheet aims to provide a hygienic, sanitary solution for interior surfaces to hospitals, clinics, homes for the elderly, primary care centers, sterile rooms, laboratories, pharmaceutical factories, industrial kitchens, storage rooms and refrigeration facilities, schools, restrooms, airports, bus stops, train stations and sports centers. The launch comes as the rising need for infection prevention and sanitation control across the world continues to increase.
Also, APS Elastomers offers TPE for health care and medical applications to the North American market; helping small and medium manufacturers get through these difficult periods by significantly increasing its inventory and managing its supply chain.
Moving forward, these innovations and products will help numerous people in many ways, all of which would not be possible without the ease of plastic processing and possible sanitization with one-time use. The industry is in a state of rebound and several other developments are resurfacing to fill the gap recently created.
Stay Home and Stay Safe.

Publication date: 20/04/2020

Omnexus (news)


This project has received funding from the Bio Based Industries Joint Undertaking under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 837761.