Additive manufacturing rapidly stepped in to resolve supply chain disruption in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, demonstrating the responsiveness and value of the technology.

2020 was a challenging year for many in product development and manufacturing. Nonetheless, the additive manufacturing (AM or 3D printing) industry grew worldwide by 7-9 percent for the year, according to the latest edition of the Wohlers Report. A contributor to this growth was the ability of 3D printing to rapidly respond to supply chain disruption with the production of critical healthcare supplies, like face shields and masks, nasal swabs, and replacement ventilator parts.

Even in a pandemic, companies continued to use additive manufacturing for both functional prototyping and production. Using the same industrial 3D printing process and materials for design iteration and manufacturing can profoundly impact the way products are developed and brought to market.

One example is the ongoing relationship we have with CGX to produce electroencephalogram (EEG) headsets for research and clinical use.

With volumes fewer than 1,000 units annually and requiring extensive tooling costs to manufacture 200 individual  parts with injection molding, CGX turned to the 3D printing services at Avid Product Development for prototypes and production of its Quick-20r EEG headsets. Our in-house HP Multi Jet Fusion 3D Printing systems were used for both product development and manufacturing in PA11.

The final design of the CGX Quick-20r headset consolidates 80 unique parts into 30. The device includes 19 “pods” that house the EEG sensors and contact a person’s head to capture brain activity. With additive manufacturing, the pods can be preassembled and adjustable with three degrees-of freedom, a feature that would have otherwise required assembly and extensive upfront tooling capital.

 

This post was adapted from this SME Article, Growling AM Industry Shows its True Mettle in Covid-19 Pandemic, which includes highlights from Wohlers Report 2021, produced annually by Wohlers Associates. For more information, visit wohlersassociates.com.