The additive industry is making major contributions to the fight against the COVID19 pandemic. If you’ve checked out www.makepartsfast.com recently, you’ve seen a number of news stories of 3D printing personal protection equipment (PPE) for healthcare providers from nearly all the major vendors in the industry.
In this edition of Technology Forward, we spoke with Bill Cronin, Chief Revenue Officer at Xometry. The company’s U.S. based manufacturing partners form the backbone of its manufacturing-on-demand platform. This platform is now being put to use to help designers as they assist in the battle against the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We’re working on a range of projects for a number of new and existing customers. Obviously, a lot of them have to do with personal protection equipment (PPE) devices, masks, visors as well as parts for ventilators, temperature measurement devices, things that can enable more people to take their temperature without coming into physical contact with others,” said Cronin.
“We’re also working on a number of other projects including bio sprays that can sanitize material and other environments. So, we are working with a range of customers within the medical world as well as others where their core business may not be but they are doing parts work in this place for the good of everybody.”
A number of these projects involve the use of additive manufacturing, particularly in the areas of the masks and parts of masks.
Continued Cronin, “We saw a need that there were a number of open-source designs that were out there, so we selected a few of them. Because our platform is spread broadly around, we helped make the designs available for people who were trying to help. So, if there was a design an engineer wanted to choose to print, they could choose to do. We are working with FDA approved and not yet approved solutions for ideas that can help fight COVID-19.
“Engineers can go to our site and upload the design, the CAD file, and they’ll get an instant price,” continued Cronin. “They can choose from a range of different capabilities within 3D printing as well as CNC machining. Now if designers are not quite ready to prototype or produce a part, the site will let them ask questions that we will help answer them.”
Like so many companies and employees, Xometry is using work from home and social distancing.
“The majority of our employees all were working from home and obviously Xometry’s set up is unique in that we work with 4,000 partner manufacturers across the world over 3,000 of which are in the U.S. across 46 states. We are finding the majority of them are still working so we are in many ways operating normally albeit under different locations and circumstances. And we have offices in Gaithersburg, in Maryland, in Los Angeles so we are many people work working from home.
“There’s a ton of people working, partners working very hard on a range of jobs across the country. And it’s been really inspiring to see the type of responses we’re getting from our small and medium manufacturers across the nation working hard on jobs. And all of them are obviously taking the necessary precautions to ensure their safety and all of the people in the ecosystem.
“I think one of the more inspiring things has been the number of companies that are either really focusing even harder on ideas that already existed or working hard on new ways to create PPE and a number of other things that can help us all through this.”