As the COVID-19 virus spread around the globe and severely impacted the global-supply chain of vital medical equipment for healthcare professionals, HP’s 3D manufacturing lab in Barcelona, Spain started getting urgent requests from the medical community.
On March 23, Juan Angel Muñoz López, a nursing supervisor at Príncipe de Asturias Hospital in Alcalá de Henares, outside of Madrid, the epicenter of Spain’s coronavirus pandemic, sent an email to Barcelona’s 3D Printing and Digital Manufacturing Center of Excellence. The email made its way to Clara Remacha Corbalán, an advanced technical consultant and HP’s applications lead to COVID-19 response who recalls, “[Muñoz] told us they had already reached the point where they have to decide who lives and who doesn’t; they don’t have enough respirators for everyone.” The hospital’s ICU nursing staff had designed a part that could connect multiple standard elements to create a CPAP device, which can help increase patients’ blood oxygen levels above 90%, avoiding the need for a ventilator. But they had no way to produce it.
The HP team recognized the need to act fast. “Within two days [of receiving the message] we had evaluated the design, printed them, and sent them to the hospital for validation,” says Remacha. “We had a dedicated person calling the agency [Agencia Española de Medicamentos y Productos Sanitarios, or AEMPS, similar to the FDA in the US] every morning and every afternoon asking what additional documentation was needed.” At the same time, they were meeting with the Spanish government every two or three days to push for approval of the device.