Can 3D printing plug the coronavirus equipment gap?

“3D printing actually has the capability to react very, very quickly — in terms of hours you can go from idea, to design, to prototype, to produce,” Ramon Pastor, acting president of 3D printing and digital manufacturing for HP, told CNN Business. The same process can take days or even weeks for traditional manufacturers, he added.

Tangible Creative, HP and Shapeways have all made their design files available online for anyone that is able and willing to print them.

“It’s not like you need a mold,” said Eugene Chang, Tangible’s co-founder and industrial design director. “You have this digital file and you can just send it to people, and they can hit print, just like how you send an email and can print it out on a 2D printer.”

Tangible Creative, which has 100 3D printers at its warehouse in Newark, New Jersey, has partnered with Brooklyn-based competitor MakerBot and Columbia University to create a coalition called the COVID Makers Response. The group is currently printing roughly 2,000 face shields a day, which volunteers pick up and drop off at the 92nd Street Y in Manhattan. They are then assembled and sent to more than 30 hospitals in the area.