The swabs are now readily available to the medical industry and testing centers around the country. FATHOM will have the ability to scale production of testing swabs from 100,000 to millions.
"When Dr. Ramy Arnaout (M.D., associate director of the Clinical Microbiology Laboratories at Harvard-BIDMC) initiated the call to medical device manufacturers to play an important part in the COVID-19 test kit swab shortage, we activated our network of medical professionals, engineers, and 3D manufacturers immediately," said Goutam Reddy, CEO of Abiogenix. "We have collaborated swiftly and arduously to heed the call. In only 35 days, our design is now fit for mass production." Forecast 3D is supporting the high volume demand by ramping up support up to 1 million per week.
To achieve a superior swab design, the swabs were optimized against several criteria:
- Patient Sensitivity: The materials had to be flexible, yet sturdy enough to be safely inserted into the nasal cavity
- Collection Sufficiency: The spiral swab was designed to maximize adsorption of viral fluid. The material was also tested to ensure it was compliant with the PCR (polymerase chain reaction) process
- Tip Comfort: 3D printed prototypes allowed for geometry freedom enabling rapid iterations to ensure that tips were optimized for patient comfort
- Breakpoint Reliability: A new innovative design features single-handed, bend-and-twist functionality for swab separation post-collection
"This entire process is a prime example of how additive manufacturing and the right team can facilitate a condensed development life cycle through a very collaborative and iterative process. Coupled with the extreme motivation to combat a global pandemic, we looked to leverage FATHOM's unique expertise and capabilities to assist in solving this problem," said Rich Stump, chief operating officer at FATHOM.
FATHOM, and Abiogenix are actively receiving orders across North America.
*For initial diagnostic testing, the CDC recommends collecting and testing an upper respiratory specimen. Nasopharyngeal specimen is the preferred choice for swab-based testing.