GrabCAD Shop Helped Get Thousands of Face Shields to COVID-19 Front Lines

Learn how GrabCAD Shop, Stratasys 3D printing management software, was used to process print orders from 100+ partners who volunteered their printing capacity for COVID-19 face shield production.

In early 2020, COVID-19 spread across the country, and within weeks, became a global pandemic. The contagious disease that infects people of all ages ambushed the world.

Medical personnel soon became the only hope for the growing millions infected who experienced severe symptoms as the disease wreaked havoc on their respiratory tract. However, as the outbreak continued and hospitals flooded with patients it became apparent that there would not be enough protective equipment to keep front-line workers safe. Protective equipment was needed — and fast.

COVID-19 Face Shield

COVID-19 Face Shield

That’s when the 3D printing community became a beacon of hope. Professionals across the globe started seeing the value in 3D printers and its ability to produce protective equipment faster than any other production method. Stratasys was among the leaders in the 3D printing community who offered their help. To date, the company — along with Stratasys partners and customers, 3D printed over 100,000 face shields for hospitals, medical personnel and other first-line responders.

As important as 3D printers were to the process there was one software that helped orchestrate the mass production of face shields: GrabCAD Shop. Without GrabCAD Shop, 3D printing over 100,000 face shields would not have been possible.

GrabCAD Shop Face Shield

GrabCAD Shop Processing Face Shield Prints

Streamlining Face Shield Production

The Stratasys offices in Minnesota became the headquarters for Stratasys employees to 3D print, cut, and ship thousands of face shields to hospitals in need. At the peak of the production process, over 600 companies filled out the Stratasys response form, either requesting supplies or offering their printing and manufacturing capacity to help.

3D printed shield parts

3D printed shield parts

To facilitate these requests, GrabCAD Shop, Stratasys’ new 3D printing management software, was used to receive print orders and fulfill them.

“A virtual model shop was set up in GrabCAD Shop when we realized we needed a way to connect requests from all the hospitals to our 100+ partners who volunteered their printing capacity,” explains GrabCAD Shop Product Manager Anirudh Krishnakumar.

“Once we set it up, we had the Stratasys operations team playing the liaison role, tracking face shield requests from hospitals, and uploading them as orders of 100 each to GrabCAD Shop.”

— Anirudh Krishnakumar, GrabCAD Shop Product Manager

Print operators from across the Stratasys partner network used GrabCAD Shop to view face shield orders and fulfill the requests on a first-come first serve basis. By monitoring the volume of incoming requests, Stratasys partners could plan their capacity, material inventory and pick up orders when they were ready.

The orders also contained all the information operators needed such as:

  • Desired completion time
  • CAD files
  • Acceptable biocompatible materials
  • Shipping information

Every time they completed an order (100 face shields), they shipped them and added the tracking information to the same order for monitoring purposes.

“GrabCAD Shop tracked the entire lifecycle of the requests from the time the hospital requested it, until the time the shields reached the doorstep of Stratasys offices in MN, to then be packed and shipped to the hospitals”

Reducing Downtime

GrabCAD Shop was instrumental in preventing downtime. If a partner had available capacity but no face shield orders, the Stratasys operations team would easily view this in GrabCAD Shop and re-assign orders to these partners so they could fulfill them right away.

Using the GrabCAD Shop “comments” feature, operators were able to ask clarifying questions. Each comment notified the Stratasys teams via email, which helped them respond as quickly as possible.

“GrabCAD Shop tracked the entire lifecycle of the requests from the time the hospital requested it, until the time the shields reached the doorstep of Stratasys offices in MN., to then be packed and shipped to the hospitals,” Kumar adds.

Shipping face shields

Shipping face shields

3D Printing Together While Apart

The Stratasys coalition was able to help over 150 different health systems, including hospitals, clinics, academic medical centers, and nursing homes. 3D printing over 100,000 face shields would not have been possible without the network of companies and employees who made up this coalition, including:

  • Stratasys Direct Manufacturing (which has facilities in Eden Prairie, Minnesota; greater Austin, Texas; and Valencia, California)
  • Stratasys partner network
  • Stratasys customers like Boeing, General Atomics, Toyota Motor Company, Medtronic, Dunwoody College of Technology, the University of Central Florida, and the University of Minnesota.

“I have never seen collaboration across our industry the way I saw it over these critical weeks in the spring,” said Stratasys Healthcare Segment Leader Scott Drikakis, who directed the company’s COVID-19 response in the Americas. “This rapid, adaptive response is what 3D printing does exceptionally well, and I’m very proud of our employees and partners.”

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GrabCAD Shop is available as a free trial, you can register and download the software.

GrabCAD shop works with all additive manufacturing systems including CNC machines and non-Stratasys printers. Want to learn more about how to efficiently manage a 3D printing lab? Watch this on-demand webinar.

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