Kansas Asks Dentists to 3-D Print Nasal Swabs for COVID-19 Testing

Dentistry Today


Kansas health officials are asking dentists in the state who have SLA 3-D printers to create nasopharyngeal (NP) swabs for COVID-19 testing, which are not available on the commercial market.

“The Kansas Health & Environmental Laboratories (KHEL) now has capacity to test a thousand patient samples a day, but we need NP swabs to do it,” said Kristie Clark, MD, president-elect of the Kansas Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics. 

“We are rapidly approaching our peak and need to test, test, test to get this pandemic under control,” said Clark.

Lee A. Norman, MD, secretary of the Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE), tasked Clark with procuring swabs for the KHEL.

Clark has been collaborating with 3-D printer manufacturer Formlabs to bring 3-D NP swab manufacturing to Kansas in a noncommercial endeavor.

Formlabs printers, which many dentists and dental labs use, might only need a different tray to produce NP swabs. Dentists also would need the surgical guide resin (approximately $300 a build), the files to print, and the wash and cure, which cost $1,200. So there would be costs, Clark said, but a modest income as well. 

“One 24-hour build yields 300 swabs with market price set by Formlabs at $2.50. Swabs would be directly supplied to KHEL, where the lab director will sterilize them and package them with Viral Transport Medium to send off to hospitals and health departments across the state,” said Clark.  

“We are looking into grant funding for this too, but need to act quickly as this is time-sensitive,” said Clark.

Clark is collaborating with Hodgeman County Economic Development, which is a 501(c)3 organization, and KSTATE Polytechnic. Also, Clark said, dentists already have ISO certification to manufacture these medical devices since they are for patient use.

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