A montage of makers holding the medical equipment they made, and computer renderings of the equipment.

In the past decade, 3D printing has occupied some interesting niches. It’s an invaluable prototyping tool for countless industries and has found regular use in architecture, biotech, prosthetics, and plenty of other disciplines. The rise in consumer-grade printers has also given rise to a vibrant maker community. But for the most part, the technology has remained a niche tool instead of a household name.

Then came the COVID-19 pandemic. Hospitals around the world faced frightening shortages of medical equipment — essentials like face masks and shields, testing swabs, ventilators, and more. While traditional supply chains scrambled to react, 3D printing outfits large and small have begun chipping away at the short-term demand. Most 3D…

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