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Layer by layer, 3D printers boost Japan coronavirus mask supply

Shared designs also help make face shields, but regulation a hurdle for ventilators

Tokyo based startup Japan Medical Company began producing face shields using 3D printers.

TOKYO -- The coronavirus pandemic has thrust fresh attention onto the use of 3D printers as users try to find a low-cost and small-scale route to create much-needed supplies of face masks, face shields and even ventilators.

Kyorindo Drug Store, a Japanese chain, recently purchased two 3D printers costing about $900 each so it can produce masks for employees at its headquarters in Shizuoka Prefecture. "We are doing what we can so that there will be more supplies available for our customers," a spokesperson said.

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