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  • Panthera employees in Quebec City have been hard at work manufacturing various prototypes of equipment designed to protect caregivers

    April 3, 2020

(Montreal, March 24, 2020) Across Quebec, 3D printing companies are active in the fight against the Coronavirus.

Stéphane Blais
The Canadian Press

They make prototypes of masks and visors; valves; devices for opening doors without using one’s hands; and other medical equipment to supply hospitals that fear shortages.

Since Sunday, dozens of Panthera Dental employees in Quebec City have been hard at work manufacturing various prototypes of equipment designed to protect caregivers.

“We understand the importance of this, something big is happening and we can help,” said Beatrice Robichaud, co-founder of this company specializing in the manufacture of dental products.

Panthera Dental has about 20 3D printers and, as it is well known in the medical community, the company receives many requests related to the pandemic.

“The federal government, the provincial government, hospitals in Quebec, and even hospitals in the United States called us to find out what we could do,” said Béatrice Robichaud.

“What sets us apart from other companies is that we already print medical equipment so we can create sterilized and reusable products,” added Béatrice Robichaud to The Canadian Press.

She said she has presented various prototype equipment to medical authorities, and that her company continues to research while waiting to see what type of equipment the authorities will need.

“There is a global shortage of certain medical devices and each country is trying to produce for itself, so we cannot count on the others, we must be able to produce between our walls,” she added.

The 3D printing company Fablab was also contacted by public health to put its printers at the service of doctors.

“We are part of an unofficial group, there is a network that has been formed with doctors and people from public health and we are discussing what is possible to manufacture”, explained manager Vincent Charlebois of production at Fablab.

Voxel Factory, which is located in Montreal, sells professional 3D printers designed for businesses. The sales director, François Lahey, is also in contact with various hospitals.

“There are currently discussions to know what the needs will be. It is important to wait until the authorities tell us what they want, in order to properly meet the requirements of the medical staff, “he explained, adding that his company is one of the largest suppliers of 3D printers in Canada .

Small businesses that do 3D printing are also in demand. The Eric Paré Photo Studio, which has a single 3D printer, was contacted by a doctor, who wanted to have a visor to protect himself from the risks of contamination.

“She is a doctor I know, so we printed a prototype and this doctor will present it to the medical staff where she works,” said Christian Dion, an employee of the studio.

The improvised manufacturing of medical equipment involves health risks, but in France and Italy, initiatives by companies that have mobilized to 3D print equipment have been successful. Some of these initiatives play an essential role in the fight against the coronavirus.

Italian Minister of Technological Innovation Paola Pisano has publicly congratulated and thanked entrepreneurs who have successfully created respiratory valves using 3D printing.

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