ErasmusMC: Short time to market offers a solution during the corona pandemic

ErasmusMC: Korte time to market biedt oplossing tijdens coronapandemie - Snijlab

Short time to market offers a solution during the corona pandemic

How Snijlab helped alleviate the shortage of face masks in hospitals by delivering more than 40,000 pieces in a short time

During the first wave of the corona pandemic, the demand for medical protective equipment was overwhelming. Regular producers were unable to scale up in time to meet demand. That is why the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport (VWS) invited the market to produce medical devices as quickly as possible.

Large regular producers appear to be sensitive to raw material shortages and disruptions in their logistics process. It requires creativity and agility from companies like Snijlab to provide solutions in the time it takes these major manufacturers to adapt.


Snijlab immediately sees the added value of laser cutting. Start up quickly but also be able to create volume, with the materials available. That is what is needed right now.


Various designs for face shields are circulating on the internet. In particular the design of Prusa inspires, but is not suitable for laser cutting. To really make an impact, Snijlab sets a number of requirements for the design:

  • It must be sound and easy to use.
  • It must be disinfectable.
  • It can be produced in significant quantities in the short term (days, not weeks).

More than 15 concepts went from sketch to prototype in one afternoon. It can always be immediately validated whether the mask fits properly, whether it is sturdy and whether it is easy to assemble. At the end of the day, the basic design of the NGS2020 will be ready.

The NGS2020 consists of only 4 parts: 2 polyacetal (POM) straps, a polyester (PET) screen and a silicone strap. There are no screws or tools involved. For cleaning in hospitals, it is important that it is easy to disassemble and that all parts can be cleaned in standard processes.

The hospital is immediately interested in using the face masks. They think along with the latest adjustments and give approval for production. Other hospitals and the national distribution point are also contacted.


The first orders have been received. The first 10,000 masks must be delivered within a week. And that in addition to the regular orders. It is the first time that Snijlab has produced its own design on such a large scale. There is confidence in our own capacity, but scaling up so quickly also poses a completely new challenge.


Snijlab chooses to manage the entire process in-house. Everyone works extra shifts: 7 days a week, all free hours are used to produce as much as possible. Fortunately, a number of parts can be made by the recently developed autoSPOT, a very fast laser machine that can load and unload automatically.


All individual parts are there, but Snijlab normally does not take care of assembly. However, the crisis requires flexibility and again: speed.


Fortunately, there is a lot of willingness. Snijlab arranges a team of volunteers for the masks for the Erasmus MC. In a separate room, the day's production is assembled and packaged every day in just a few hours.

"Within a week, the first masks were already present in the workplace and offered protection to hospital staff."

Erasmus MC


The corona crisis has created a global shortage of raw materials. The demand for transparent materials has grown explosively, and this shortage is spilling over into other materials as factories are using all their capacity to make transparent materials. Snijlab has a large stock of its own, but it is dwindling dangerously quickly. The required materials simply cannot be ordered anymore.


Many suppliers only have small residual lots. These are difficult to process because they always have different thicknesses and plate dimensions. However, Snijlab can handle this very well. Nestings (plate layouts) can be quickly adjusted. Multiple versions of the design are made, a separate version for each material thickness. In this way, many small residual batches ultimately create a large stock of material.

Snijlab offers the design for the face shield open source at: www.ngs2020.nl . Various parties have already produced the face shield based on the design.

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