While Aaron Pearson’s ride to work is predictable, his work as VP of Public Relations & Analyst Relations for Stratasys has been anything but this past year.
“Living and working in EP is great,” he says. “Eight minutes to work. Never more, never less!”
“It’s been a year of resilience for our employees,” Pearson reports. “Working from home, lots of ups and downs.” And plenty of activity related to COVID-19 for Stratasys, one of the world’s leading 3-D printing, or additive manufacturing, companies. Stratasys has four facilities and about 800 of its 2,000 employees in Eden Prairie.
First, the good news: the company’s supply chain had only “spot disruptions, nothing too bad,” both for materials coming in and product going out. – Aaron Pearson, Stratasys VP of Public Relations & Analyst Relations
Next, a couple of significant initiatives related to the pandemic: one coordinating the production and distribution of face shields for the healthcare industry, another for the mass production of nasopharyngeal swabs for virus testing.
At the end of March, Stratasys began matching 3-D producers of protective shields with users. The company publicly published design files and material specifications so its printers could produce protective shields and visors and donate them to local hospitals.
Stratasys also invited requests for shields, which quickly poured in. Stratasys ended up with 150 production partners making and donating over 16,000 shields per week. The collaboration ultimately shipped over 275,000 face shields.
3-D printing’s role in mass production was proven in a partnership between Stratasys and San Francisco-based Origin. The sudden need to test millions of people for COVID-19 created an immediate shortage of nasal swabs for testing centers everywhere.
Origin’s nasopharyngeal swab passed clinical trials at Beth Deaconness Medical Center in Boston in April. The swabs were printed by Origin 3-D printers and marketed and distributed by Stratasys to its base of healthcare customers. With over 500,000 tests run daily, production of these sterile, complex products ran into the millions.
Nasdaq Symbol: SSYS
2019 Revenue ($ 000): 636,080
2019 Income ($ 000): (10,849)
The pandemic brought downturns in some areas for Stratasys, like the aerospace and automotive markets.
But “…many people started thinking more about the potential of 3-D printing. Executives at manufacturing firms became more aware of 3-D printing in their own companies and began asking what else they could be doing,” said Pearson.
“The pandemic has been a catalyst for 3-D printing. Industry was moving this way, but we didn’t wish for a pandemic to help it along. Still we’ve had lots of learning and collaboration.”
And contributed greatly along the way.