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Polyester tipped 3-dimensionally printed swab that costs less than US$0.05 and can easily and rapidly be mass produced
  1. Sarah Alyouha1,
  2. Sulaiman AlMazeedi1,
  3. Mohammad Alghounaim2,
  4. Yousef Al-Mutawa1,
  5. Salman AlSabah1
  1. 1 Department of Surgery, Jaber Al Ahmed Al Jaber Al Sabah Hospital, Surra, Kuwait
  2. 2 Department of Pediatrics, Amiri Hospital, Ministry of Health Kuwait, Kuwait City, Kuwait
  1. Correspondence to Dr Salman AlSabah, Jaber Al-Ahmed Hospital, Kuwait City, Kuwait; salman.k.alsabah{at}

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Due to the current COVID-19 pandemic, the world is experiencing a severe shortage of clinical supplies, as manufacturers struggle to meet demands.1 2 A decrease in the supply chain for diagnostic tests has led to increased interest in nasopharyngeal swabs produced by additive manufacturing methods, such as 3-dimensional (3-D) printing.3

To encourage innovation in this area, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), USA, recently held a virtual town hall meeting regarding 3D printed nasopharyngeal swabs and has called for open sourcing of design blueprints through the National Institute of Health’s 3D Print Exchange ( Callahan et al 5 recently published the design and clinical results for their 3D printed nasopharyngeal swabs. Although their results are excellent, a downside is that the stereolithography (SLA) printers and materials required to print their swab’s intricate tips are expensive (around US$3500 for SLA printer and US$250/kg for surgical grade resin)6 and difficult to source. Also, due to the complexity of the design, these swabs can be slower to print, requiring several printers for mass production. For countries with less manufacturing prowess and resources, this might not be possible.

How can 3-D printers be used to produce cost-effective nasopharyngeal swabs?

Fused deposition modelling (FDM) printers are the cheaper, more widely available 3-D printers, owned by most hobbyists. They can easily be purchased from an online vendor, such as, for less than US$500. In addition, polylactic acid (PLA) …

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  • Contributors All the authors have contributed substantially to the planning, conducting and reporting of the submitted work.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

  • Ethics approval Ethical approval has been obtained for all clinical studies reported in this manuscript.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.