Coronavirus: Volkswagen uses 3D printing to produce face shields
Volkswagen Group has started to produce face shield holders by 3D printing as it continues to contribute in the fight against coronavirus pandemic. This is part of a joint transnational initiative with Airbus and the 3D printing network “Mobility goes Additive", which includes about 250 companies. The products developed by Airbus will be used in Spain and will be flown from Hamburg to Madrid by Airbus, next week.
This cross-industrial initiative was launched in response to requests from the Spanish authorities, which will also distribute the products in the country. The aim is to make as many holders as possible by then. In addition, there are a number of other initiatives by Volkswagen Group brands to produce medical supplies.
A conventional plastic foil will be inserted into the holders by third parties now being produced by Volkswagen. With these shields, the entire face will be covered by transparent protection. In order to ensure the highest possible standards of hygiene, Volkswagen employees producing the holders will wear gloves and face masks.
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Gerd Walker, Head of Volkswagen Group Production, said, “Our team is already working at full speed to make these urgently needed parts as quickly as possible."
Production is in progress not only at the large 3D printing centers in Wolfsburg and Ingolstadt, but also at other plants of Audi, Bentley, Bugatti, MAN Truck & Bus, Porsche, Volkswagen Passenger Cars, Volkswagen Group Components and Volkswagen Motorsport. The Group currently uses more than 50 3D printers at its plants continuously adding additional printers for this project.
Lamborghini, Seat, Skoda and Volkswagen Passenger Cars are also working on other medical supplies. Volkswagen Navarra (Spain) has already started last week to produce face shields and has handed about 1,000 units to the Navarra Government. In collaboration with the Technical University in Prague, Skoda has developed a 3D printing process to produce reusable FFP3 respirators.
The Czech Ministry of Health is now distributing these to doctors, hospitals and nursing staff. Lamborghini is converting departments of its super sports car production plant in Sant’Agata Bolognese in order to produce surgical masks and protective plexiglass shields. The masks will be donated to a hospital in Bologna.
Seat is currently working on several initiatives to collaborate, including the production of a mechanical ventilator that will be assembled in Martorell and various models of face masks which are still pending official approval. Volkswagen South Africa is also printing masks and face shields which are pending official approval.
Within the Volkswagen Group, a dedicated task force of more than 30 experts is steering 3D printing. “We coordinate specifications, material, printing software, and the deployment of human resources within the Group," says Gero Corman, Head of Digital Innovation of the Volkswagen Group.
To date, Volkswagen has already donated several hundred thousand medical face masks for the public health system in Germany. The Volkswagen Group has also decided to donate additional medical supplies such as face masks and protective clothing for medical centres and hospitals with a total value of about €40 million (around ₹329 crore). This is intended as a contribution to maintaining the functioning of the health system in Germany. As a global group, Volkswagen is also using its international supplier and logistics network to provide support for the procurement of medical equipment and supplies.
The aid now being provided for Spain is part of a joint initiative with Airbus, the 3D printing network “Mobility goes Additive", which includes about 250 companies in addition to Volkswagen, and other partners.