It’s no secret that 3D printing has done a lot to help during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, even while it’s causing havoc in our own industry, as well. 3D Systems (NYSE: DDD) worked with Konica Minolta to 3D print Venturi ventilator valves in Australia, and also collaborated with the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) on shoring up supply chain issues in the early days of the crisis, as the organization needed face masks and other PPE. The VHA worked with 3D Systems at the time to come up with a nasopharyngeal swab that could be 3D printed on production-grade equipment. Now, the two have announced that they are expanding upon their initial collaboration with a new initiative to improve patient care for U.S. veterans.
As Veterans Day in the U.S. was this week, obviously it was the perfect time to make this announcement.
“What began during the pandemic in response to a critical need has expanded to change the way healthcare is delivered. This is a one-of-a-kind collaboration between an additive manufacturing solutions provider and one of the world’s largest integrated health care systems to accelerate innovation in the medical device production and deployment arena,” Menno Ellis, Executive Vice President, Healthcare Solutions, 3D Systems, explained in a press release. “3D Systems’ team of experts is collaborating with the VHA team both in our facilities and on-site at the VHA to enable on-site production of medical devices, and help improve the quality of care they deliver to this very important patient population.”
With their new contract, the VHA and 3D Systems will work together to better serve U.S. veterans with 3D printed medical devices produced at the point-of-care (POC), something in which 3D Systems is already well-versed. POC is the just-in-time manufacturing of medical items, such as anatomical models, surgical guides, and prosthetics, based on patients’ personal medical imaging data at their place of care.
The company will offer support to the VHA in setting up FDA-compliant manufacturing facilities in its various hospitals to 3D print POC medical devices. This will be a big job, as the VHA is the country’s largest integrated healthcare system with nearly 1,250 facilities, according to SME. But by the end, the VA network will be able to speed up innovation and make its supply chain more efficient in order to improve personalized care for their patients.
“In a highly regulated environment like healthcare, the technology is only a small part of the solution. What becomes more critical to customer success is the partnership with a company that has knowledge and expertise operating in a regulated environment,” stated Ben Johnson, Director of Product Development, Healthcare, 3D Systems. “Through this collaboration, 3D Systems will not only be installing 3D printers at the VHA sites, but we’ll also be helping them install a quality management system that includes the processes, documentation, and training required to be compliant as a medical device manufacturer.”
As part of this collaboration, 3D Systems’ healthcare AM team and the VA will work to design medical devices and get them cleared by the FDA. Application experts at 3D Systems will be managing all of the regulatory paperwork at first, in addition to developing a quality management system for POC 3D printing at participating VHA facilities. Eventually, the company will train VHA teams on how to complete the process themselves, in addition to running the QM system and finishing regulatory clearance submissions for products.
The POC solution for US Veterans will include 3D Systems’ Virtual Surgical Planning (VSP)-related software and workflows, in addition to its ProX SLS 6100 3D printers and materials.
(Source/Images: 3D Systems)
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