Since the COVID-19 pandemic began earlier this year, medical testing facilities have struggled to obtain enough test swabs to test the millions of people requiring COVID tests each week. Currently, there are approximately two million COVID tests administered each week in the U.S. According to some sources, that number should rise to 20 to 30 million each week in the next six to 18 months.
One of the leading solutions to help fulfill this increase in demand for COVID testing swabs is 3D printing, and many suppliers have ramped up efforts to develop and produce 3D-printed swabs for medical facilities and testing sites. With the two major traditional swab manufacturers overwhelmed by the demand for nasal tests, 3D-printed COVID test swabs developed by other groups may be the best answer.
Benefits of 3D Printing Testing Swabs
Manufacturers utilize 3D printing to develop products cheaply and quickly, and they can be printed in bulk and made to scale. This is especially beneficial for producing COVID testing swabs because the swabs are fairly small but complicated to design. It’s important to understand that 3D printing is more adept at producing small, complex products than larger, simpler ones. Because many nasal testing swabs have intricate tips with dense, lattice-style exteriors made for collecting as much of a sample as possible, 3D printing can produce them quicker than traditional manufacturing. The major benefit of 3D printing these swabs is the sheer volume that these printers can produce once the design and materials are locked in (and the addition of these outside manufacturers to the existing, overwhelmed medical manufacturers).
Differences in 3D-Printed Swabs vs. Traditional Swabs
While 3D printing companies are working with the FDA to test 3D-printed nose swabs to prove that they are just as effective as traditional nasal swabs, there are some differences in their design. Most obviously, 3D-printed swabs are all one material, while traditional swabs are made up of different materials for the stiff handle and the flexible, soft swab tip. Instead of this soft tip, many 3D-printed swabs feature a lattice-style tip, which is made of the same material as the handle and allows the 3D printer to print the entire swab in one piece. In order to mimic the “soft” tip, 3D-printed swabs vary in density from the handle to the tip. At the base of the handle, the swabs are quite dense and rigid, which allows the medical professional to hold them while administering the test. On the other hand, the lattice tip is less dense and more flexible for the patient’s comfort.
3D-printed nasopharyngeal test swabs are a fundamental part of COVID-19 diagnostic testing; however, the use and benefits will extend past the pandemic. As production continues to evolve, the popularity of the 3D-printed swabs will rise due to the superior quality compared to traditional swabs, less discomfort during application, and for added efficiency as they can be printed on demand. To learn more about 3D-printed or sterile swabs, contact Qosina’s sales team at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call +1 (631) 242-3000.