SPE In Action – The Battle Against Covid-19

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Viral collection swabs

  • 1.  Viral collection swabs

    Posted 03-28-2020 14:09
    I just received this request from our medical school at West Virginia University: 
    I wondered if you could advise me, and direct me if possible, to any faculty member with interest and capability to generate research grade viral collection swabs?  Just an idea....but to deal with supply chain issues I wondered if possible to fabricate our own dacron/nylon/rayon (synthetic tip) swab with a plastic long flexible handle for nasopharengeal sample collection?  Cannot use the tradition cotton/wood handle in this circumstance for several reasons including the inhibition of enzymes in subsequent PCR reactions.
    Would need to be sterilized etc.  This is becoming a really bottleneck in the supply chain based on the pandemic.

    Question from Rakesh Gupta:

    Could someone advise me about how one may go about fabricating these swabs?

    Rakesh Gupta
    West Virginia University

  • 2.  RE: Viral collection swabs

    Posted 03-29-2020 15:44
    There is a Emergency Manufacturing Response team in Massachusetts working on 3D printing (and maybe scaling up further) tested swabs. Feel free to share the Slack link to join the conversation:  https://join.slack.com/t/rapidmanufact-iop4498/shared_invite/zt-cykndes6-XtxzG~8bkji64M3wTVWiOw

    It sounds like as of yesterday flu swabs have been approved for this testing as well. Progress is happening every day, so it will be interesting how the need for supplies will be reassessed in a few days.


    Erin Keaney

  • 3.  RE: Viral collection swabs

    Posted 03-30-2020 09:38
    Prof. Gupta,
    Thanks for your post.  I have recently seen several LinkedIn posts about 3D-printed nasal swabs, and I did not know that the reason for this is due to bio-incompatibility with the traditional wood/cotton swabs, in addition to the supply-chain issues happening right now.

    Here are what I have found:
    - Formlabs - Their SLA machines are very cost-effective; it is possible WVU has one or several of these machines.  https://formlabs.com/covid-19-response/covid-test-swabs/
    - USF Health has worked with Formlabs and a few others to 3D print the nasal swabs and test them compared to standard swabs for tests for COVID-19:  https://hscweb3.hsc.usf.edu/blog/2020/03/28/usf-health-northwell-health-tampa-general-hospital-and-formlabs-join-forces-to-create-3d-printed-nasal-swabs-to-test-for-covid-19/?utm_source=usfhealth_home&utm_medium=image-link&utm_content=small_image&utm_campaign=health%20home.
    - Carbon 3D - They have developed a new lattice engine software to design the 3D-printed swabs to be made using their Digital Light Synthesis process.  https://www.carbon3d.com/covid19/
    - HP - It looks like they have used their Multi-Jet Fusion technology to 3D print swabs, which have been approved by the FDA, and they are working with Harvard and a medical center to improve the designs.  https://enable.hp.com/us-en-3dprint-COVID-19-containment-applications.

    I'm sure there are more successful cases out there.  So far, I have not seen any using FFF/FDM.

    Best regards,

    Matthew Thompson
    Toray Composite Materials America, Inc

  • 4.  RE: Viral collection swabs

    Posted 03-30-2020 13:50
    Erin and Matthew,
        Thank you for your help.

  • 5.  RE: Viral collection swabs

    Posted 03-31-2020 08:49
    Good morning,

    Here is an article on Abbott's successful swab work: https://finance.yahoo.com/news/fda-greenlights-first-covid-19-pointofcare-test-from-abbott-234449283.html

    FFF/FDM has been being used to make masks, face shields, and ventilator parts. I also think people have tried to make swab shafted, them flock on the tip material, but with not much success.


    Erin Keaney