VA, FDA, NIH Turn to 3D Printing for COVID-19 Equipment

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), Food and Drug Administration (FDA), National Institutes of Health (NIH), and “innovators across the globe” are testing 3D designs of medical equipment used by healthcare professionals in the fight against the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.

“The collective actions of our partners allow us to bring VA’s medical expertise in 3D printing to the frontline of the fight against COVID-19, helping health care providers and patients stay safe,” Secretary Robert Wilkie said in an April 14 press release.

In combination, VA’s Innovation Ecosystem, the NIH 3D Printing Exchanges, and the FDA 3D Medical Device Initiatives will “leverag[e] medical knowledge, with public health and safety expertise, while also validating the efficacy of 3D products.” America Makes, a public-private 3D printing partnership, will scout manufacturers to produce and scale the 3D printing projects.

VA says it activated its “3D printing network” in late March to begin prototyping personal protective equipment and other medical supplies. The initiative is a part of the agency’s “fourth mission” directive to provide back-up assistance to healthcare systems.

While still putting veterans first, the VA’s fourth mission provides healthcare services to states during times of national crisis. On April 14, the agency announced that it had made 1,500 beds available to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, began caring for dozens of non-VA patients, and other tasks as a part of its fourth mission initiative.

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