The COVID-19 pandemic is causing major upheavals both in people’s lives and in the manufacturing world. One of the main problems that even the most developed nations are facing is a shortage of personal protection equipment (PPE), including masks, glasses, gowns, safety suits, and fans.
The current crisis has caught some of the traditional manufacturers of these devices unprepared and unable to respond to the rapidly increasing demand. It’s prompted many governments to encourage non-traditional manufacturers to assist with the production of these types of goods.
Shifting production during favorable economic conditions can be challenging for many companies. When a sudden event occurs that disrupt, or even halts, day-to-day operations, many manufacturers are forced to make difficult business decisions. The ability to quickly adapt and react in unprecedented times gives manufacturers significant advantages.
In this regard, flexible production systems can represent a key, not only to produce what the market needs anytime even in an emergency, but also to support its business and its employees.
Like many southeastern Michigan manufactures, Technique, based in Jackson, Mich., concentrates on the production of metal profiles such as tubes and stamped components primarily for the automotive industry.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, orders from the automotive sector have drastically reduced and posed a serious threat to maintaining the employment of the company’s 160 employees.
Given the large demand for face shields, essential equipment for doctors and nurses to treat COVID-19 patients safely, Technique quickly devised a plan that would not only save jobs, but provide critical personal protection equipment to hospitals around the world.
Technique developed its first prototype of a fully reusable face shield and immediately began production. The aluminum support required small features to be cut in order to fully-assemble the plastic shield. With the high flexibility of its existing BLM Group LT-FREE five-axis laser cutting system, it could easily be accomplished.
Once the CAD model of the aluminum support was developed, it was imported into the LT-FREE CAM software, ArtCut, and instantly converted to the part program. The part went from concept to production in a matter of a few days.
The two work chambers boost productivity by processing parts in parallel. The laser cutting, as well as loading and unloading operations, are independent to avoid work cycle interruption. This allows Technique to produce 2,000 to 5,000 face shields per day.
The use of the LT-FREE has allowed Technique Inc. to quickly adapt its production and manufacture an essential product to guarantee the safety of doctors and nurses in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.