U.S. government engineers test 3D-printed nasopharyngeal swabs

2020 05 21 22 02 3391 Lawrence Livermore Swabs 400

Engineers from the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) have tested more than a dozen types of 3D-printed nasal swab designs to help address the shortage of nasopharyngeal swabs amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

The engineers formed a rapid response team in March after one of the largest suppliers of nasopharyngeal swabs stopped shipments. The team partnered with commercial and academic partners to perform mechanical tests on hundreds of individual swabs that could potentially be used in the clinical environment.

Some swab designs have been 3D-printed and tested by engineers. Image courtesy of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.Some swab designs have been 3D-printed and tested by engineers. Image courtesy of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.

Through the collaboration, the lab provides feedback on how their outside partners can improve swab designs to meet the requirements for COVID-19 testing. So far, one design has been made available for use in healthcare.

The lab plans to continue testing 3D-printed swab designs and working to determine their compatibility with polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests. They are also investigating how 3D printing can be used for other parts of COVID-19 test kits.

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