The Department of Veterans Affairs, Food and Drug Administration and the National Institutes of Health have launched a joint research and development initiative focused on using additive manufacturing to address medical equipment shortages, Nextgov reported Tuesday.
The three agencies signed a memorandum of understanding and is seeking 3D-printing capabilities that will enable the rapid production of medical supplies and personal protective equipment amid the coronavirus pandemic.
America Makes, a nonprofit startup accelerator organization, teamed up with the agencies to help them coordinate with firms in the manufacturing sector as part of the initiative.
NIH currently has an open-source tool called 3D Print Exchange where entities can identify and share models that are interoperable with commercial 3D printers. The VA, which assesses and tests the user-submitted designs, also has its own 3D printing network to aid the operations of its medical frontliners.
“This initiative is rapidly evolving,” Beth Ripley, enterprise lead of the VA 3D Printing Network. “In just six days, VA tested two face shields and designed and tested one face mask. We have already made significant progress in a short time.”