WATERTOWN, MA – April 9, 2020 – Markforged, the leading manufacturer of metal and carbon fiber 3D printers, today announced that it is partnering with Neurophotometrics to produce Fiberflex Rayon, a 3D printed nasopharyngeal (NP) swab for use in diagnostic testing for COVID-19. The new 3D printed swabs take just minutes to make, and in testing, they successfully detected the virus in all of the patients, while the commercial swabs reported false negatives. The team is currently producing 10,000 swabs per day, with plans to scale to 100,000 per day.
“Identifying COVID-19 infected patients is the best way to slow down the spread of the disease, but we’re seeing a lot of issues with wide-scale testing,” said Greg Mark, CEO and Founder of Markforged. “There are massive shortages of nasal swabs and to make matters worse, hospitals are reporting false negatives with the current swabs on the market.”
In a collaborative effort by the San Diego Covid Research Enterprise Network (SCREEN) Initiative — a group of scientists, students, research institutions, and others in the San Diego area — Neurophotometrics, Rady Children’s Hospital-San Diego, the Scripps Research Institute, and the University of California San Diego designed and tested the 3D printed swabs with fifty volunteers. Patients that were confirmed to be positive for COVID-19 were re-tested three to fourteen days later with both the commercial swab and the 3D printed swab. Testing with the commercial swab detected the virus in most, but not all of the patients, while all of the 3D printed swabs came back positive, suggesting the 3D printed swab may be more efficient at collecting viral particles and may reduce the rate of false negatives.
The 3D printed design couples a 3D printed nylon swab base with a wrapped rayon tip to gather the viral specimens. The nasopharyngeal swabs must be both flexible enough to enter the nasal cavity and strong enough to withstand significant mechanical force or torsion without breaking or shearing. The 3D printed swab has been evaluated in testing to ensure it meets the mechanical demands of clinical use and assessed to be comparable to the mechanical performance of commercial swabs.
“Neurophotometrics collaborated with Markforged and medical professionals to scale this 3D printed swab at a rapid pace,” said Sage Aronson, CEO and Founder of Neurophotometrics. “Markforged 3D printing enabled us to test more than 50 prototypes in 36 hours. And in the last two weeks, we’ve turned an idea into a viable product that’s going to save lives.”
Rady Children’s Purchases 30,000 Fiberflex Rayon Swabs
The 3D printed swabs completed clinical validation with the institutional review board (IRB) at Rady Children’s and the University of California San Diego this week, and the hospital has now ordered 30,000 swabs from Neurophotometrics to test patients within their facility.
“Once again, 3D printing is changing the paradigm of medical advancements and device development,” said Justin Ryan, PhD, director and research scientist at the 3D Innovations Lab at Rady Children’s. “We saw an urgent need for swabs for testing, and quickly formed a partnership between academia and industry to come up with designs and test them — and it’s incredible what has been achieved in such a short period of time. When early tests came back positive on the new design and manufacturing process, we needed to figure out how to scale to provide this solution to as many people as possible. Markforged is stepping forward in a huge way to build upon the work this collaboration has achieved. Scaling the swabs to millions will help save lives and further flatten the curve. Innovation and 3D printing are saving lives.”
“Containing the novel coronavirus infection is a challenge that goes beyond any one company or institution,” said Nicole Coufal, MD, PhD, a pediatric critical care physician at Rady Children's and assistant professor at University of California San Diego School of Medicine. “When it became clear that a shortage of swabs hurts our efforts to extend testing for COVID-19 and hampers our ability to effectively identify affected individuals we knew that we brought together an innovative team that could help us make meaningful progress to have the tools needed in this fight. Together, the San Diego Covid Research Enterprise group, including Neurophotometrics, Rady Children’s, the Scripps Research Institute, and Markforged have achieved just that. We’re excited about the potential this initiative has in making a real difference in our efforts to control the spread of this disease.”
- For more information about 3D printed Fiberflex Rayon swabs, please visit neurophotometrics.com/swabs
- Learn more about what Markforged is doing to combat the coronavirus at https://markforged.com/covid-19/ and you can inquire about how Markforged can help you by filling out this form.
- Learn about the Rady Children’s 3D Innovations Lab at https://www.rchsd.org/programs-services/3d-print-lab/
San Diego Covid19 REsearch Enterprise Network (SCREEN) is a grassroots-driven, mesa-wide, multi-institutional effort with researchers and clinicians from UCSD, Salk, Scripps, SDSU, Sanford-Burnham, LIAI and Rady’s Children Hospital to provide the community with Covid19 information and funding announcements, spark and coordinate local research collaborations and connect immediate problems with rapid solutions. Using Slack as a software platform to connect more than 800 academic scientists and clinicians, SCREEN curates and moderate channels as groups form organically to tackle research opportunities and solve problems faced by researchers and clinicians.
Markforged transforms manufacturing with 3D metal and continuous carbon fiber printers capable of producing parts tough enough for the factory floor. Engineers, designers, and manufacturing professionals all over the world rely on Markforged metal and composite printers for tooling, fixtures, functional prototyping, and high-value end-use production. Founded in 2013 and based in Watertown, MA, Markforged has about 300 employees globally, with $137 million in both strategic and venture capital. Markforged was recently recognized by Forbes in the Next Billion-Dollar Startups list, and listed as the #2 fastest-growing hardware company in the US in the 2019 Deloitte Fast 500. To learn more about Markforged, please visit https://markforged.com.
Neurophotometrics Ltd. (NPM) is a scientist-run company providing state-of-the-art optical equipment for both academic and industrial research applications.
In science, every discovery leads to new questions. The answers to many of these questions require novel tools and technologies. As most scientific research (the bench work) is conducted by junior researchers (i.e. graduate students and postdoctoral fellows), this group has a unique perspective as to the demand for new technologies and regularly spearheads their development.
At NPM, we aim to work with junior researchers to rapidly make their technological advancements available to a broad audience. Our objectives are to reduce redundancy in tool development, promote a more efficient use of federal and private funding, and to augment the stipends of junior researchers so that they become commensurate with the value they provide to society.
Through our symbiotic relationship with academia, we look to disrupt the scientific hardware industry by rapidly bringing new technologies to market in an affordable manner. This gives us a competitive advantage over most science technology companies who are forced to spend substantial funds re- or reverse engineering advances that have already been developed.
Founded in 2017, NPM has grown rapidly providing equipment and scientific support to labs in over 17 countries around the World.
The information provided and contained herein is, to the best of our knowledge and belief, accurate as of this date. However, the circumstances of this pandemic are unprecedented, and as such information is rapidly changing. Moreover, clinical validation of these devices and their use in diagnostic testing is ongoing. While it is our goal to aid in this pandemic response, we make no guarantee of results and or promises with respect to any future products.
Director of Corporate Marketing