July 14, 2021
In 2020 and 2021, we all became well-acquainted with nasal swabs. But small sticks we stuck up our noses, it turns out, were harder to come by than anyone could have predicted. A May 2020 survey of 118 labs in the US found that 60 percent reported limited swab supplies – making lack of swabs the most commonly reported supply-chain problem.
One small company that stepped into the fray of swab production was the two year old OPT Industries, a Massachusetts-based company with fifteen employees involved in additive manufacturing (think 3D printing) of dense microfiber structures. The company’s printers and software can print more than just swabs, but the first product the company has focused on since 2020 is the InstaSwab – a 3D printed swab used in COVID-19 tests.
In four months in 2020, OPT Industries manufactured 800,000 nasal swabs for commercial partners like Kaiser Permanente and medical products distributor Henry Schein. After that trial run, the company foresees an uptick in production capability. Using newer, modular machines, Ou notes that each machine can now produce about 30,000 swabs per day. Read rest here.