AUSTIN, Texas, April 28, 2022 — Essentium, Inc. announced the Essentium High Speed Extrusion (HSE™) 3D Printing Platform and industrial materials were used to conceptualize, design, prototype, and manufacture ten functional Worlds Protect COVID-19 breathalyzer kiosks in an accelerated time frame. The Worlds Protect team, a collaboration between The Texas A&M University System, Worlds Inc., and the U.S. Air Force, developed the kiosks to provide quick, convenient, and accurate breathalyzer tests suitable for on-site screening of large groups of people.
The kiosk requires a person to use a disposable straw to blow into a copper inlet. In less than a minute, test results with accuracy comparable to a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test can be sent to the participant’s smartphone, according to on-going preliminary data testing.
Due to the tight timeline and an unpredictable supply chain caused by the pandemic, the Worlds Protect team required a solution to manufacture complex part designs and increase prototyping speed without sacrificing mechanical properties. With the military deployed in hot and dry regions, the Worlds Protect kiosk must be robust enough to function in harsh environments.
Essentium’s technology and materials enabled rapid iteration to conceptualize, design, and develop in days instead of weeks. Most kiosk parts were printed in less than a day, 66% faster than the three-day turnaround for traditional subtractive manufacturing methods. The Worlds Protect team was also able to reduce costs by up to 90% in some instances. For example, one of the mountings used in the final product was quoted at $110 for a machined version and cost only $12 to 3D print.
During part design, the team used low-cost Essentium PLA to iterate. The final parts needed to withstand temperatures up to 100 C and have sufficient tensile strength. The team chose Essentium PA-CF due to its exceptional strength, temperature resistance, and printability.
Said Maulik Kotecha, a doctoral student at Texas A&M University: “Essentium’s High Speed Extrusion 3D Printing Platform is a game-changer in fast tracking the design and development of these much-needed COVID-19 breathalyzer kiosks. We need the ability to rapidly screen large groups of people, with targeted expanse into austere environments. Together with Essentium, we have made this a reality in the fastest time possible.”
Said Blake Teipel, Ph.D., CEO, Essentium: “Throughout the pandemic, the 3D printing industry has been instrumental in innovating and producing essential medical gear. Essentium stepped in early to deliver 3D printed protective masks for first responders. Now we are proud to support the Worlds Protect team to speed the development of kiosks that represent a significant leap forward in the COVID-19 fight and tackling other infectious diseases. 3D printing has delivered once again with reliable and repeatable quality at speed.”