Manufacturing the smallest, simplest of components can also contribute greatly.
The current economic outlook may look bleak, but as businesses both tighten their belts and extend their arms to support customers, industry counterparts and, of course, the heroic global healthcare industry, positive innovation and partnerships are taking place everywhere we look.
In an example of how that can look, automobile giant Ford has partnered with 3M and GE healthcare to mass produce respirators, ventilators, and face shields with the help of 3D printing to boost production.
In building the equipment, the partnership aims to develop new designs based on parts produced by both companies to meet the demand.
Targets of the partnership include “to build 50,000 ventilators in the next 100 days” and more than 100,000 plastic face shields per week for communities of first respondents, factory workers, and retail workers.
The automaker intends to leverage its in-house 3D printing capability to produce components of personal protective equipment (PPE) such as disposable respirators.
3D printing an emerging tech in healthcare
However, Mike Kesti, Global technical director of 3M’s personal safety division, said “3M’s view is that 3D printing for PPE does not provide the scale we need.”
Ford’s deployment of 3D printing technologies is an innovative move yet, as pointed out by Kesti, will not transform the current supply issue, at least in the short term.
However, current work in the area is showing 3D printing’s open-source potential in a crisis, and how focusing on manufacturing the smallest, simplest of components can also contribute greatly.
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