TAMPA, Fla. — Not all heroes wear capes. Right now, they’re wearing scrubs, but even heroes sometimes need proper tools to save the day. USF Health is stepping up to fill that need for health care workers on the front lines in the fight against COVID-19 and they're doing so with remarkable alacrity.

  • 3D printers utilize surgical-grade quality materials to create swabs
  • USF Health can print up to 3,000 swabs per days
  • More coronavirus stories

“We received a call from our dean letting us know that there was as shortage of these testing swabs and pitching whether or not there was a possibility of looking at 3D printing to answering that situation,” said Dr. Summer Decker, associate professor of radiology at USF Health.

After consulting with doctors from many departments, and test driving several designs, professionals at USF Health and Tampa General Hospital got their answer.

“We’re using surgical grade material ... so this surgical grade material is one of the more expensive materials, but there’s no cost when it comes to patient safety,” said Decker.

That "spare no expense" belief, Decker says, is the universal outlook among all medical professionals these days regardless of where they work or who they work for.

USF Health can now print up to 3,000 swabs a day.

“Normally with something like this, this process would take us months to years to be able to do," said Decker. "No one would do this in normal circumstances, but we’ve been able to do this in the last two weeks.” 

Just two weeks at a crucial time when the world is facing a shortage of coronavirus test kits.

“I think that this here is just a representation of a lot of people working together who never would have worked together necessarily. We know that we’re all in this together and we will all work and fight this battle together,” said Decker.

The swabs are currently in clinical trials, before they will be a standard form of COVID testing.

USF Health has already shared the design with several other hospitals in an effort to tackle the shortage sooner rather than later.