AUBURN HILLS, Mich. – April 1 – To assist medical workers fighting COVID-19 in its local communities, Nexteer Automotive is using its 3D printers in Saginaw, Mich., and Tychy, Poland, to make plastic masks and face shield headbands.
Nexteer is working with local government and medical organizations to donate the supplies to nearby medical facilities.
Nexteer’s Engineering Team in Saginaw is currently using its 3D printers to produce masks in two sizes to provide a better fit for men and women.
The initial prototypes were reviewed by members of Saginaw’s medical community before manufacturing began.
The team is targeting production of about 50 masks per day. As of March 30, more than 150 masks had been given to Michigan Health Improvement Alliance, Inc. (MiHIA) to fit with filter material and elastic for ear straps.
“Our Saginaw site has a long history of helping our community and country in times of a crisis,” said Dan Dralle, executive director, global manufacturing engineering, Nexteer Automotive. “During World War II, we produced M1 Carbines, and now our team is working around the clock to produce masks for the medical community to help in the fight against COVID-19.”
The Saginaw team continues to explore other options to increase mask production, such as working with Mayer Tool & Engineering, Inc., a mold manufacturer, to use an injection molding machine in one of Saginaw’s plants to produce around 1,000 medical-grade plastic masks per day.
The mold manufacturer is working around the clock to help speed up the development process so production can begin as soon as possible. Nexteer has also been working closely with its resin supplier, PolyOne Corp., to supply the materials necessary to manufacture the face masks.
Milavec also stated that Nexteer has been approached by automotive OEMs to assist in their fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. While none of the opportunities have yet been a match for Nexteer, the company remains in close communications with its OEM customers to find ways to assist where possible.
Nexteer’s Engineering Team in Tychy, Poland, is providing about 100 face shields a day to help doctors and paramedics protect themselves while fighting COVID-19. The team is working with the Municipal Office in Tychy to distribute the face shields to local medical services.
Nexteer is currently producing about 50 face masks and 100 face shields daily.
Regarding face mask production in Saginaw, the company is exploring additional manufacturing processes expected to increase capacity to more than 1,000 masks per day.
Regarding face shield production in Tychy, the company is providing complete face shields to the medical community by 3D printing the headbands and procuring the plastic face shields from a third party.
“Our 3D printers are typically used to create prototype steering systems for our automotive OEM customers, but our team found a creative solution to leverage our 3D technology to help our local community fight the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Piotr Dembiński, communications manager for Europe, Middle East, Africa & South America, Nexteer Automotive.
“Within just two days of starting this initiative, our engineers were producing masks – showcasing the strength of our One Nexteer team when faced with a problem. We’re also offering to share our project details and key learnings with other companies looking to use their 3D technology to produce medical equipment.”
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