Home / News / India /  How 3D printing startups are helping the fight against covid-19

NEW DELHI: The proximity to covid-19 patients has put the medical community world over at a heightened risk of infection. In the absence of fully protective equipment, the risk grows manifold.

Mumbai-based Boson Machines, a 3D printing startup, has brought out a protective face mask that can minimise the risk of infection among on-duty medical staff while they take care of patients.

With help from Swapneil Parikh of Jaslok Hospital, Boson Machines has designed a face shield with two components -- a plastic helmet made out of PLA (polylactic acid) and a 0.4 mm transparent sheet made of PVC (polyvinyl chloride) attached to it.

The shield can be put on over the N95 mask providing an additional layer of protection to doctors and nurses. Jaslok was one of the first hospitals to use their face shield, which is now being used by hospitals like Kasturba and KEM across the state. Outside of Maharashtra, Boson Machines has delivered face shields to hospitals in Haryana, Rajasthan and even Jammu & Kashmir.

“Right now there a million people who can benefit from the face shields. One unit costs 100, but we are trying to ensure that atleast government hospitals and police have access to them for free. Vendors have also helped us by giving material at half the cost," said Swapnil Sansare, founder, Divide by Zero Technologies.

Divide By Zero Technologies is a Mumbai-based 3D printing startup, which has also stepped in at the time of crisis to manufacture face mask pressure relievers and face shields. They are currently making 8,000 face shields in a day and are supplying them to hospitals in Mumbai, Pune and Delhi.

Boson Machines is also scaling up production with help from Maharashtra government and, in a day or two, will be in a position to produce 5,000 units every day.

“Due to lockdown there was no labour to manufacture the components. That is when our family members stepped in helping with everything from manufacturing to delivering the units to hospitals. We are trying to raise funds so we can donate more face shields to hospitals," said Arjun Panchal, co-founder, Boson Machines.

With the rising number of cases, the health machinery is faced with another challenge. According to reports, the country has 50,000 ventilators, which won’t be enough if covid-19 cases grow.

Bengaluru-based tech startup Ethereal Machines has created a ventilator splitter using 3D printing. Already tested at Aster Hospital in the city, the splitter can split the supply into a 50-50 ratio to provide oxygen from one source to two patients. In cases where one patient’s condition is worse than the other, the startup has created a differential ventilator splitter which can split the oxygen supply into 30-70 ratio.

Divide By Zero’s other innovation using 3D printing is focused on making face masks less painful to wear. Sansare said doctors and nurses in all hospitals are wearing safety mask for 8 to 9 hours every day. These face masks use threads which cause red marks and swelling around ear and nose if used for long hours. By replacing thread with 3D printed face mask pressure relievers, the masks can be made less stressful to wear.

Boson Machines is working with Parikh on a prototype of a scuba mask that will cover the entire face, so there is no open area while treating a patient.


Abhijit Ahaskar

Abhijit writes on tech policy, gaming, security, AI, robotics, electronics and startups. He has been in the media industry for over 12 years.
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