3D Printing May Have A Role In Humanitarian Relief Efforts

The non-government organization, Field Ready, appears to live up to its name. In an effort to avoid the use of make shift tools to clamp the umbilical cords of new born babies at a health clinic in Haiti, the humanitarian relief organization began to print 3D umbilical cord clamps (just-in-time), scaled up training for all staff and provided the resources necessary to maintain the printing presses.

And the printer is still being used to date.

The alternative of course, was to purchase the equipment at a cost from manufacturers, but even humanitarian and other development organizations like Field Ready recognize both financial and human life gains from the adoption of evolving technology. Field Ready makes humanitarian supplies in the field, and along with local medical providers, create medical supplies that address immediate healthcare needs.

The application of 3D printing technology in healthcare management, particularly in resource challenged settings is relatively nascent, but provides possibilities for real time response to emerging problems on the ground such as the one that Field Ready faced in Haiti.

So how does this resolve real time issues on the ground?

?I have found that Field Ready has worked in humanitarian situations in the past and became very frustrated with logistics and supply chains not delivering what was needed in the field, when it was needed?, said Field Ready Advisor, Laura James in an interview with SciDevNet.

?With new technologies, particularly things like additive manufacture but generally workshop technology is becoming suddenly more computerized, and the ability to email designs across the internet instantly from place to place suggested this new way of working, which is what we are experimenting with now?, she added.

Indeed, the use of 3D printing technology does represent a new way of working in the field, and how widely it is or can be adopted is yet to be seen. 3D printing or additive manufacturing is a process of making three dimensional solid objects from a digital file. Objects are created by laying down successive layers of material until the entire, solid object is created.

While there are several benefits to the adoption of additive manufacturing in resource limited settings, more research needs to be carried out that determines whether the costs outweigh these benefits needed for wide scale adoption.

To hear more of the interview with Laura James, visit: 3D Printing