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Canadian firm looks to make more 3D-printed medical devices in St. Louis

Glia Inc. set up a workshop in south St. Louis, as it looks to boost production of 3D printed stethoscopes
Credit: SLBJ
Jonathan Phillips, head of Glia Inc.'s St. Louis manufacturing facility, said the company is looking to raise $1 million for tourniquet production to aid Gaza, where a war broke out last month.

ST. LOUIS — Canadian medical device manufacturer Glia Inc. has set up a workshop in south St. Louis, as it looks to boost production of 3D printed stethoscopes, tourniquets and perhaps other supplies.

The company partnered with St. Louis nonprofit The Fabricatorz Foundation to open the branch, at 2623 Cherokee St., located in the workshop of Well Made, a prototyping fabrication studio run by Kevin Kelly that assists in the efforts.

Jon Phillips is running the Glia operation, which opened in May and now has two other employees, both production assistants.

The idea, he said, is to inexpensively produce medical devices using a 3D printer made by Prusa Research in the Czech Republic. The St. Louis operation now has 10 of the machines, called I3, which cost about $1,000, Phillips said, with funding from Glia.

He said by using them, Glia can make its stethoscope, which contains a thermoplastic polymer, in about three hours. They sell for $25. Fifty have been produced in St. Louis so far, Phillips said.

Printing a solution

The company, founded in 2015 by Dr. Tarek Loubani, is targeting medical students, who Phillips said often start their studies with a new stethoscope, perhaps purchased by a parent.

He said Glia hopes to have a customer base that's younger and more nimble than that of competitors like 3M, the juggernaut in the space.

"Direct-to-consumer has risen during the pandemic as a way for a company, including manufacturers, to do both the sales operation all the way to drop shipping the products that were sold," Phillips said. "The tools and the market are simple to access and setup."

Phillips said he'll look to boost the company's U.S. social media presence.

It's also working to raise as much as $1 million to provide 20,000 tourniquets to Gaza, where a war broke out last month between Israel and Hamas. Glia says it partners with Gaza company Tashkeel 3D on the project. It saw its lab flattened during the latest conflict, according to an Aljazeera report.

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