shapeways 3d printed swabs

Nasal swabs (or nasopharyngeal swabs) are used in gathering samples for different types of tests. During the COVID-19 pandemic, these swabs are essential for collecting samples to test if a patient has contracted coronavirus.

Hospitals, laboratories, and other facilities are facing shortages in these swabs to meet the current demand. Using 3D printing technology and its ability to manufacture rapidly, Shapeways has partnered with EnvisionTEC to produce 3D printed nasal swabs in its FDA-approved facility in Long Island City, New York. Hospitals and medical providers that need swabs in their testing kits can contact us here.

If you’re unfamiliar with nasal swabs, here’s a brief overview of what they are and how Shapeways is producing them for use in the medical industry.

What are Nasal Swabs Used for?

COVID-19 testing is currently the most common reason why a nasal swab is needed, but it is certainly not the only use. Millions of nasal swabs are used each year for various testings. Some examples include:

  • Flu Tests – Many influenza tests are performed in the same way as a coronavirus test. A nasal swab is used to take a sample from deep within the nasal cavity. During flu season, nasal swabs are an essential testing tool. 
  • Strep Tests – Testing for strep throat requires a sample from the back of the throat to be tested. This is done using nasal swabs.
  • Whooping Cough Tests – If someone has whooping cough symptoms, the test will require a nasal swab to gather the necessary samples.
  • Medicine Delivery – Some medications are delivered using a nasal swab. Zicam, for example, is a brand name cold shortening treatment that has a medication on the end of a nasal swab. The user applies the medication into the nasal passages to help treat the cold.

Customized Nasal Swabs for Any Use

Nasal swabs come in different sizes based on their intended use. A swab used to collect samples from the back of the throat, for example, will need to be longer than one used to deliver medication into one’s nasal passage. 3D printing allows these swabs to be made to precise specifications.

Shapeways is currently producing sterilized and unsterilized nasal swabs that are chemically safe and can bend 180 degrees without breaking, ensuring that the swabs would be able to safely collect enough viral particles from the nasal passage to effectively test.

Solving the Medical Supply Shortage

During the COVID-19 pandemic, 3D printed nasal swabs are able to fill in the supply shortages quickly and reliably. More importantly, modern industrial 3D printers can print these swabs with precision to meet FDA standards. Through an institutional review board (IRB)-approved clinical trial, the 3D printed nasal swabs produced by Shapeways through its partnership with EnvisionTEC are shown to be safe alternatives to those manufactured in traditional methods. See report of the clinical trial here.

Contact Us

While the current pandemic has illustrated the importance of having reliable medical supplies, it has also shown the benefits of 3D printing technology for the medical industry.

Shapeways has been printing devices to help battle COVID-19 and has added nasal swabs in addition to face shields and contact-less door handles. We’re here to help hospitals and healthcare providers care for their patients.