A network of small businesses, universities and enthusiasts used 3D printers to make millions of pieces of personal protective equipment last year. That helped mitigate supply shortages in some cases, but it’s not clear how useful the technology will be for the next pandemic. 

On this episode of Medically Necessary, Matt Blois looks at how those printers fit into the supply chains of the future. He welcomes Georgette Nelson, program manager at America Makes, an organization that promotes the use of 3D printing to solve problems in a number of industries.

The two discuss the just-released FDA report conducted by America Makes detailing the role that 3D printing played during the COVID-19 response. The report found that 3D printing had an impact, but there were some hurdles. The technology is too slow for large-scale manufacturing. Many health care providers were reluctant to use PPE that didn’t have full FDA clearance. Will that be the case the next time a health care disaster strikes?

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