New French organization Covid3D creates 24-7 3D printing factory for 40 hospitals

Since the beginning of this year, the COVID-19 outbreak has demonstrated the fragility of global supply chains that provide life-saving equipment including ventilators, masks and other personal protective equipment (PPE) to medical facilities around the world.

3D printing has long emphasized its power to decentralize global manufacturing by manufacturing locally, but the material with which it operates is still beholden to the global supply chain.

Pictured here are workers on the production line manufacturing COVID-19 testing kits in a biopharmaceutical company in Nantong, China in March. Many of the world’s critical medical supplies are manufactured by China and the United States. Since the COVID-19 pandemic, the global medical supply chain has been turned upside-down, affecting the ability of many nations to procure critical medical products to treat their local outbreaks of COVID-19. (Image courtesy of FeatureChina via AP Images.)

The pro-decentralization argument in favor of additive manufacturing systems generally goes something like this: global supply chains require huge amounts of transportation. Since additive manufacturing systems 3D print products on site without expensive tooling from a 3D design file, the cost of shipping and production is reduced. CAD files are easy to reverse engineer and easy to redesign, greatly reducing time-to-market as well. Prior to the COVID-19 outbreak, this argument was not airtight by any means. The cost of producing certain non-essential and essential goods (including medical supplies) was still cheaper by traditional methods like injection molding and transcontinental shipping. 

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