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COVID-19 Manufacturing News Digest: May 8, 2020

Alan Rooks
By Alan Rooks Editor in Chief, Manufacturing Engineering

The following is a digest of news items focusing on how manufacturers are aiding the global response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Philips to Increase Hospital Ventilator Production to 4,000 units Per Week

Royal Philip, Amsterdam, plans to double the production of its hospital ventilators by May 2020 and achieve a four-fold increase by the third quarter of 2020. This plan builds on Philips’ initial production increase in the first three months of the year, which already enabled the supply of additional ventilators to hospitals in the most affected regions in China, southern Europe and the US. To further address the huge global demand, Philips introduced its new Philips Respironics E30 ventilator, which has been designed for large scale production.

Honda Prints Face Shield for Healthcare Workers

Honda of America Manufacturing, Marysville, Ohio, is 3D-printing protective face shields for medical providers. The company has also inventoried its stock of personal protective equipment throughout North America and has donated much of it, including N95 face masks, to frontline healthcare workers.

Prosthetics Manufacturer Makes Face Shields

Unlimited Tomorrow, Dutchess County, N.Y., which building prosthetic limbs using 3D printing, is producing 1,000 face shields for Nuvance Health. Founder Easton LaChappelle hopes to not only help by producing the face shields, but by using the opportunity to hire on residents from the area who are being laid off in the midst of the pandemic.

From Trade Show Setups to Screening Stations

Holt Marketing Environments, High Point, N.C., is transitioning from manufacturing trade show setups to building temporary fast-build screening stations, infection control kiosks and hygiene stations to help healthcare facilities test, assess and quarantine patients safely and efficiently. Holt Marketing Environment’s temporary structures, which can be built in less than one week, are being manufactured by the hundreds to help combat COVID-19 across the nation.

Grace Engineered Products Ramps Up PPE Production

Grace Engineered Products Inc., Davenport, Iowa, has ramped up manufacturing operations to produce more than 10,000 face shields per week. The company went from designing a prototype to production in a five days. Grace is a manufacturer of safety products that permanently mount onto equipment to keep people safe and assets secure. For more information, visit

Company Invents Disinfecting Robot

Forth Engineering in Cumbria, England, has invented a remotely-operated disinfecting robot. According to the company, the robot can disinfect 68,000 square feet in 20 minutes. In addition to many other applications, the robot can be used to disinfect factories and offices, schools and colleges. Based in Cumbria, Forth employs 54 people in Maryport, Barrow and Cleator Moor. Its recent projects include working to develop a Friction Stir Welding Robotic Crawler (FSWbot) for internal repair and refurbishment of pipelines which can be used by a range of industries without having to stop production.

High School Students Print PPE

Students at Camdenton High School, Columbia, Mo., are using 3D printers to help produce hundreds of face shields for health care workers at Lake Regional Hospital in Osage Beach, Mo. The printers were provided by nearby Camdenton Middle School, which received them as part of a $16 million grant from the MU College of Education’s eMINTS National Center. The students can make about 40 face shields a day.

Boat Covers Become Face Masks with HEPA Filters

LaPorte’s Products Inc., Charleston, S.C., has retooled its production line of T-Top Boat Covers to make nonmedical face masks. Made from the material that is used to make boat shades–a very stretchy fabric with antimicrobic in it that is UV ray-resistant–each mask includes a HEPA filter, which helps reduce the chances of passing and receiving bodily fluids from one person to another. LaPorte’s Products Inc. has already received orders for face masks from the U.S. Air Force, Google and Boeing, among others. The company has the capacity and enough material to make a total of 30,000 masks and is working to make between 500 to 700 masks per week.

Digital Manufacturing Company Pivots to Mass Production of Face Masks

ZVerse, Columbia, S.C., a 20-person digital manufacturing company, overhauled its business model and is now capable of producing 100,000 face shields per day. ZVerse Founder and CEO John Carrington projects the company will produce 20 million shields by July. Carrington brought together designers, materials and manufacturing partners, including Protolabs, to accelerate mass production. Carrington is investing $4 million in upfront capital expenses, which include the professionally engineered injection molds. Initially ZVerse used 3D printing to produce the first 1,000 shields. However, the overwhelming demand led the company to use injection molding to increase production to 100,000 shields per day at a price hospitals can afford.

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