Dallas’ Unique Software Development is 3D Printing Respirators for the COVID-19 Shortage

For healthcare workers locally and nationally, the software development company is producing as many as 400 respirators a day—pro bono—with its 20 in-house printers. And, the design can be sanitized, allowing a common surgical mask to be reused 6-10 times.

Another Dallas-based team has decided to use their resources for good during the COVID-19 global pandemic. The folks at Unique Software Development LLC have more than 20 in-house custom 3D printers, typically used for designing and prototyping projects for clients. But now, with the news that healthcare facilities across the nation are experiencing shortages of respirators, Unique Software Development has decided to produce its own.

Last week, the American Medical Association, American Hospital Association, and American Nurses Association signed a joint letter to President Trump calling for an increase in the production of medical supplies and equipment. A national shortage of masks, N95 respirators, and other personal protective equipment (PPE) not only further spreads the virus, but it can also inhibit the ability of healthcare workers to treat COVID-19 as rapidly as they should. The masks traditionally aren’t designed for reuse, but many have been forced to do so.

This puts those on the frontline at high risk. In Italy, for instance, equipment shortages run high, and more than 4,000 healthcare workers have been infected, Vox reports. Many have put out their own request for PPE donations.

Unique Software Development (USD) is one of the companies answering that call. The software developer is starting to produce as many as 400 respirators a day with its 3D printers using a design from the Billings Clinic Foundation, a healthcare nonprofit in Montana.

The effort will help extend the current limited supply of medical masks, CEO Matt O’Brien told Dallas Innovates.

[Photo: Courtesy Unique Software Development]

“The team at Unique Software Development has a long history of community involvement and charitable endeavors. Like most businesses, once the pandemic hit the United States, we began researching ways in which we could aid our local and national healthcare responders,” he says. “We were spurred to action after it became clear that respirator shortages were very real and fast becoming critical issues.”

USD also has a large inventory of filaments and resins used to manufacture reusable plastic respirators, which could supplement healthcare providers’ inventory of medical masks. The plastic component of the design is one that can be sanitized indefinitely and reused, allowing a common surgical mask to be worn 6-10 times as a filter, according to O’Brien.

Each respirator will be shipped with 10 custom and ready-to-use filters.

“We’re going to help local hospitals and healthcare workers get more uses out of common surgical masks, which are in short supply already, so that they may continue to safely assist patients during this great time of need,” O’Brien says, referencing USD’s home in Dallas. His goal is to donate all respirators to area medical facilities, then directing units to places in the U.S. experiencing critical shortages.

The project is entirely pro bono, as USD is funding the cost of 3D printing, the initial filter set, and international shipping.

About Unique Software Development

Founded in 2012, the privately held company creates digital experiences, from conception to deployment, for Fortune 500s, startups, and nonprofits. That includes mobile apps, machine learning and data science applications, eCommerce, and more. The company says its solutions—created through USD’s own design and prototyping process—are meant to be meaningful, substantial, and enduring interactive experiences.

USD currently has a local team of 10, consisting of senior management, business analysis, product management, and marketing. But the subsidiary in Pakistan, a software engineering and coding facility, houses more than 100.

O’Brien says he’s one of the lucky businesses with a staff that was ready to weather the COVID-19 storm. Employees are used to working remotely, and the client work is largely uninterrupted. However, hiring and expansion plans have been delayed with the stay-at-home order. The largest challenge in the coming months will be finding new product managers, developers, and engineers.

“We anticipate that it may take several months for things to get back to normal,” O’Brien says. “Consumer (B2C) based applications are taking a hit due to the uncertainty surrounding the rebound of household spending; however our business (B2B) based applications have continued (and even accelerated) during the crisis.”

Last year, USD, which is self-funded, experienced 63 percent revenue growth. Even with the coronavirus pandemic, O’Brien predicts to see a more than 20 percent growth in revenue this year.

“We’ve actually signed partnerships with two new clients during the last two weeks within the healthcare and finance industries,” he says. “We’re happy that other prospective clients that we’ve had in the pipeline have indicated to us that they want to continue moving forward with their projects.”

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