Components awaiting shipping

COVID-19: Tales from the Supply Chain

April 6, 2020
Industry balances safety, product needs in continuing to deliver solutions.

As the challenge grew to deliver products and components to assist COVID-19 first responders around the country and around the world, manufacturers were forced to confront two significant issues: delivering needed components to their customers around the country and around the world, and keeping their employees safe during the increased production.

Here are a few stories of what key industry suppliers have done to achieve both of these goals in the age of a global pandemic:

3D Systems

“The healthcare industry is facing an unprecedented challenge. Each day the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 increases, while resources to help fight this pandemic continue to dwindle,” said Vyomesh Joshi, president and CEO, 3D Systems. “The healthcare professionals who are putting their lives on the line to treat affected patients soon will run out of the equipment needed to care for these patients or to keep themselves safe.

“One of the greatest benefits of additive manufacturing is that it allows companies to reduce the dependency on the supply chain, manufacture parts internally or make them on demand,” Joshi continued. “And this is what we’re asking our network and encouraging the industry to help us do right now—circumvent the supply chain to manufacture these PPE and life-saving devices as quickly as possible.”

Lonati SpA, a 3D Systems customer in Brescia, Italy, deployed a 3D Systems printer to 3D print more than 100 Venturi ventilator valves for respiratory machines, which are in short supply.

The Pinerolo, Italy facility produced more than 700 components in just one week, including disposable valves for emergency ventilator masks for an Italian hospital. The project was request at 11 a.m. local time, and after a new design was created, 30 parts were delivered to the hospital in just eight hours.

Digi-Key Electronics

Global components distributor Digi-Key teamed with Z2Data to offer priority support and component data for companies creating ventilators and testing solutions in order to help combat the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

“Revamping older designs for ventilators and testing equipment, or creating new designs, requires selecting electronic components and alternatives as soon as possible,” said Mohammad Ahmad, president, Z2Data, LLC. “To ramp up production, multiple supply sources and component data are required. Z2Data’s tools and database help engineers and supply chain professionals make critical decisions enabling the organizations at the forefront of this crisis to get to market faster.”

“We are looking forward to helping more organizations innovate to mitigate the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic with our extensive support and same-day shipping, as well as the deep component data provided from this partnership with Z2Data,” said Jim Ricciardelli, executive vice president of digital business at Digi-Key.

Qualifying organizations can submit a request.


Clippard recognizes its unique role as a manufacturer of critical components and subassemblies for ventilators, diagnostic equipment and other critical care devices to help fight the Coronavirus. “We are honored and committed to being part of the solution in any way we can,” said company president Bill Clippard.

As demand increases, Clippard is adding 50 to 75 employees across the next few weeks. Across the first quarter of 2020, they have added staff, work cells and additional support personnel to maintain the typical 98% on-time delivery to all customers.

All this has occurred while the company is adhering to the CDC guidelines and maintaining a clean environment with appropriate social distancing throughout its facilities in Cincinnati and Fairfield, Ohio. Ultimately, it is an individual’s habits and decisions that not only keep themselves safe and healthy, but also those around them. “Clippard is truly blessed to have a team of such dedicated employees that support and respect each other,” said CMO Rob Clippard.

Lin Engineering

In order to support the ongoing efforts to combat COVID-19, Lin Engineering is prioritizing the production and supply of its motors to support companies producing medical devices critical to the treatment of COVID-19 patients—especially those producing medical ventilators and equipment needed for respiratory care, as well as other devices required to diagnose and treat COVID-19 patients.

A key part of a ventilator is the motor that helps pump air, making it easier for the patient to breathe. These devices can incorporate different types of motors, such as hybrid stepper motors, standard BLDC motors, frameless BLDC, or slotless and coreless BLDC.

Rotor Clip

A vast array of OEM and Tier 1 customers tasked with building COVID-19 equipment have taken advantage of Rotor Clip’s expedited supply process. In one instance, an OEM reached out to Rotor Clip to supply critical wave springs needed for their current ventilator production project. In two business days, Rotor Clip was able to produce and obtain quality approval to ship these parts.

”During this crisis, Rotor Clip Company currently is open and has full manufacturing capability to support our customers with our full range of products,” said Craig Slass, co-president of Rotor Clip. “We will put our full resources behind any customer producing components for essential medical devices needed to combat and treat the coronavirus.”

Bantam Tools

Officials at Bantam Tools have offered to donate desktop PCB milling machines to organizations working on solutions and supplies, such as developing medical devices or PPE. Companies in need of this prototyping cool can contact the company at [email protected].

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