Supporting medical care during the COVID-19 crisis

Materia Srl from Italy successfully uses the Sintratec S2 3D printing system in the fight against the coronavirus. With 3D-printed adapters, diving masks can be transformed into respiratory devices, thus significantly helping to relieve regional hospitals. Sintratec supports these efforts as far as possible and provides the company with the necessary printing material free of charge.

Materia Srl, based near Genoa, was one of the first companies in Italy to acquire a Sintratec S2 for its production. The SLS compact system was to be used primarily for engineering and prototyping purposes and to be applied in shipbuilding for example. But then everything turned out differently: at the beginning of March the Coronavirus epidemic broke out in Italy on an unprecedented scale, plunging the entire country into a state of emergency that continues to this day. Severe supply shortages, especially in the health sector, have prompted the team around operation manager Riccardo Suriano to make a contribution to combating the crisis and focus their work on new 3D solutions in the medical field. And successfully so.

The modular Sintratec S2 system being operated at Materia’s production. Image source: Materia Srl.

3D adapters for snorkeling masks

The situation in Italy has become increasingly critical in recent weeks. The quantity of ventilators in the intensive care units of hospitals was soon no longer able to meet the needs of the seriously ill. Following the calls of the national health system for alternative resources, the locally based market leader for diving equipment Mares developed an adapter for snorkeling masks in cooperation with Materia Srl. By means of a 3D printed component the “Sea Vu Dry+” model, normally part of underwater equipment, can be transformed into a functional face mask, suitable for artificial respiration in cases of respiratory failure.

The mask adapters are manufactured additively through selective laser sintering (SLS). Image source: Materia Srl.

Life-saving parts from the S2

Speed is crucial in the current emergency situation. Materia Srl reacted accordingly and within a very short time printed a first batch of adapters on the Sintratec S2 system and sent it to Mares for further usage. “To develop and test the project in a timely manner, we needed parts fast – the pieces of sintered PA12 met our expectations,” says Sergio Angelini, technical manager at Mares. The subsequent process of modifying the masks to create a respirator is quick and straightforward, as the press agency Il Secolo XIX points out in its report. With the successful use of these respirator masks, it becomes evident how life-saving resources can be made available at short-term through local additive manufacturing.

The modification of the diving masks can be done within minutes. Image source: Il Secolo XIX.

Support from Switzerland

“We are very proud to have made a small contribution with this project in these difficult times,” emphasizes Materia Srl operations manager Riccardo Suriano. Sintratec, the Swiss manufacturer of the 3D printing system, was also able to make a contribution through its Italian partner CMF Marelli: to support the company in production, Sintratec provided print-ready Sintratec PA12 powder, from which the mask adapters are made, free of charge. “In one of the most affected areas of the world, such creative measures are especially needed now. We hope that Materia Srl will be able to produce a large number of parts and save human lives,” summarizes Sintratec CEO Dominik Solenicki.

Sintratec PA12 powder is perfectly suited to 3D print mechanically strong and durable parts.

Update 25.04.2020

Materia Srl has recieved the printing powder and is now using it for the production of the adapters: “Thanks to the companies that support us!”

“We are very proud to have made a small contribution
with this project in these difficult times.”

Riccardo Suriano
Operations Manager Materia Srl