COVID-19 is affecting the supply and demand of a lot of businesses. When an Italian hospital ran out of their supply of a valve for their oxygen masks, a local business used 3D printing to save the day.
Finding a balance between supply and demand is a constant need for any business's inventory. Businesses will try to predict the demand from their customers and adjust their supply accordingly, but sometimes those predictions can be thrown off by unexpected changes in demand and businesses have to scramble to keep up. In supply chain management, this is called the bull whip effect.
Businesses all around the world are experiencing some form of the bull whip effect due to the Coronavirus, or COVID-19. With most of the world under quarantine, panicked shoppers have cleaned out grocery stores and pharmacies to stock up for their families while they keep their social distance.
You're not the only person struggling to find a place to restock your basic supplies, like toilet paper. Unfortunately, even hospitals are running low on the proper supplies and equipment for their patients.
With over 21,000 confirmed cases in Italy, the country's hospitals are feeling the effects of patient overload. A hospital in Brescia (an area close to a region that was hit hard with the coronavirus infection) was reporting that they were all out of the Venturi valve used for Venturi oxygen mask and that their supplier wasn't able to ship them more when they needed them. Coronavirus infected patients in the Intensive Care Unit these oxygen masks so they can live through the infection long enough for their body to fight off the virus.
Not having this specific valve could mean life or death for some patients.
Nunzia Vallini, editor of the Giornale di Brescia, heard about the issue the Italian hospital was having with the low supplies and contacted Massino Temporelli, founder of The FabLab, a digital manufacturing laboratory in Milan.
Temperelli is an active promoter of 3D printing in Italy. Valini contacted Termperelli and explained the urgent need of supplies the local hospital was facing. Valini asked if it would be possible to 3D print the Venturi Valve.
Termperelli made some calls to companies in Milan and Brescia and was able to get in contact with a local business, Isinnova. CEO and Founder Cristian Fracassi personally brought a 3d printer directly to the hospital in need. In just few hours, Fracassi and the hospital staff were able to redesign and produce enough Venturi Valves for the sick patients.
This quick thinking has saved multiple lives and shows that 3D can succeed where business manufacturing failed. It also shows how people can come together and save each other during tough times.
From organ replacement to prosthetics, 3D printing is adding a huge improvement to the medical world.
3D printing has reduced the price of prosthetics, thus making prosthetics available to more and more amputees and changing their lives for the better.
Surgery has also been revolutionized by 3D printing. Instead of relying on organ donations, surgeons can now have functioning organs 3D printed. Those organs can be used to help patients with failing organs sooner, instead of being put on a long waiting list.