3D Printing, otherwise known as additive manufacturing, has been a disruptive technology to a wide array of industries. The medical field has seen many applications for this technology. We used the most common and affordable type of 3D printers to create the first government approved Nasopharyngeal swabs of their kind.

Through our publication of our experience, we hope to do our part during this pandemic to help bring affordable, locally sourced COVID-19 swabs to all who need them. Below is a guided tutorial to guide you through the process we have designed.


Polyester is a synthetic fiber that has been approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration as of the April 21, 2020 for use in COVID-19 testing swabs. The polyester fiber we used may be easily sourced from local suppliers that use it for upholstery.

This material is very affordable and with one roll, you will be able to make thousands of swabs by deploying volunteers to apply it to the tip of the swab. Below is a detailed guide to show how the polyester can be wrapped consistently around the swab.


PLA has a melting point of 155°C and a glass transition temperature, the point at which the material loses its rigidity and softens, of 60°C. This meant that pressurized steam sterilization methods, such as autoclave, could not be used to sterilize our 3D printed swabs.

Low-temperature plasma using evaporated hydrogen peroxide (at 45°C) was therefore utilized to sterilize and package the swabs. This method proved to be effective at sterilizing the swabs while preserving their physical properties. Learn more about our methodology by downloading our guide below.