COPENHAGEN (Reuters) – A group of Danish entrepreneurs have launched a charity network that is ready to manufacture up to 20,000 protective visors per day using 3D printers, in a bid to meet growing demand from doctors and nurses battling the coronavirus outbreak.
With hospitals in Denmark and other countries overloaded as they treat growing numbers of coronavirus-infected patients, traditional supply chains have failed to meet global demand for face masks and others protective equipment.
“Global supply chains are broken, so we are not able to get the materials or products we need… so we have to do something else,” said Frank Rosengren Lorenzen, Managing Director of Danish AM Hub, a pressure group. who launched the initiative.
More than 250 printers across Denmark are currently part of the project which, at full capacity, can produce up to 20,000 protective visors per day, according to Lorenzen. 3D printing produces three-dimensional solid objects based on digital drawings.
The initiative began after the Danish Medicines Agency urged companies to come up with ideas on how to get additional protective gear such as visors, face masks and hand sanitizer.
“It’s a whole different thing to streamline your production and think fast when you 3D print,” said Simon Bergh, engineer at 3D Printhuset in central Copenhagen.
“Normally 3D printing is for small productions, testing or prototypes and now we have to go into production, so it’s more about optimizing the actual speed of production,” he said.
Bergh said he produced 60 masks using six 3D printers, with each machine producing two masks per hour, in a limited trial on Tuesday, and is now ready to ramp up production.
Denmark had recorded 34 deaths on Wednesday with 350 coronavirus patients currently hospitalized.
Earlier in March, the World Health Organization said the coronavirus outbreak had caused a global shortage of protective equipment and skyrocketed the prices of protective gowns, masks and respirators.
(The story corrects in paragraph 8 to say that each printer can make two masks per hour, not 12, and this was a limited trial)
Reporting by Andreas Mortensen; edited by Jacob Gronholt-Pedersen, Alexandra Hudson and Andrew Heavens