Newswise — The current COVID-19 pandemic, and the worldwide emergency response, is unmatched in recent memory. Scientists and epidemiologists are learning in real time how the virus spreads and what is needed to mitigate exposure. While protection of frontline health care workers is of primary importance, shortages of medical and Personal Protective Devices (PPEs) such as masks, suits, face-shields, as well as critical clinical care equipment such as ventilators, respirators, and other medical devices, are of global concern. Efforts to produce and stockpile adequate supplies, while at the same time managing quarantine and lockdown orders, have produced a tremendous strain in economic activity and has affected the supply chain for equipment and components, exposing the need for new manufacturing models.

A new Prospective article—Additive Manufacturing for COVID-19: Devices, Materials, Prospects and Challenges—published in MRS Communications, looks at these critical supply issues and provides an overview of 3D printing and how coupling the tools in additive manufacturing (AM) and advanced materials has provided a viable alternative for rapid production and distribution of PPEs and medical devices. Authors include MRS Communications Editor-in-Chief Rigoberto C. Advincula, University of Tennessee, Knoxville and Oak Ridge National Laboratory; John Ryan C. Dizon, Bataan Peninsula State University; Qiyi Chen, Oak Ridge National Laboratory; and Ivy Niu, Jason Chung, Lucas Kilpatrick and Reagan Newman, all of University of Tennessee, Knoxville.

According to the authors, this Open Access prospective article “gives an unprecedented picture of the 3D printing ecosystem and how it can be used to meet national and worldwide emergency needs such as a pandemic. Addressing the supply chain for PPEs, devices and medical consumables in this pandemic has shown the importance of AM in bringing together the academic and industry communities to help the needs. Moreover, it has shown the true potential for rapid prototyping, manufacturing, and repair in real time.”

Advincula adds that “we are now seeing increased volunteerism in many 3D printing focus groups, universities, companies, and others to provide for emergency needs of frontline workers and hospitals. A new model has emerged in that design, materials, distributed manufacturing, repairs and rapid deployment will be used for risk mitigation for many emergency situations.” For additional insights on this research by Advincula, view this video.

MRS Communications is a full-color, high-impact journal focused on rapid publication of completed research with broad appeal to the materials community. It offers a rapid but rigorous peer-review process and time to publication. Leveraging its access to the far-reaching technical expertise of MRS members and leading materials researchers from around the world, the journal boasts an experienced and highly respected board of principal editors and reviewers.

Prospective articles are a unique feature of MRS Communications, offering succinct and forward-looking reviews of topics of interest to a broad materials research readership. Authoritative and balanced, they may deal with controversies or new and speculative areas of research for future consideration. Most Prospective articles are invited by the editorial board. However, interested authors can complete a proposal form and submit to [email protected].

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