Boeing is activating its additive manufacturing network to 3D-print face shields for health care workers, and is offering the Dreamlifter to help respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Boeing employees will 3D-print the personal protective equipment (PPE) using additive manufacturing machines in St. Louis, Missouri; El Segundo, California; Mesa, Arizona; Huntsville, Alabama, and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania – as long as those facilities remain in operation, consistent with federal, state and local health orders.
Depending on the size of the machine, up to 24 face shield frames can be 3D-printed each day. The company announced it is targeting an initial production rate of several thousand a week.
“We have open capacity, goodwill and a multitude of eager employees waiting and wanting to help in this crisis,” said Melissa Orme, vice president of Boeing Additive Manufacturing (BAM).
The design includes a 3D printed frame with an adjustable headband that allows a clear plastic face shield to be easily snapped onto the frame. Boeing is evaluating the best way to quickly cut the plastic needed for the face shields, leveraging advanced cutting technology used for aircraft parts.
Face shields and other PPE have been in such short supply that some doctors and nurses have turned to swimming goggles and other homemade options.
“This is a first-step solution to do what we can right now to help,” said Carlton Washburn, a program manager in BAM. “I’ve only seen positive behavior and amazing support from people – both inside of Boeing and externally – trying to offer help. It makes Boeing’s mission to protect people very real to me.”
The 3D printed face shields solution was developed by employees from Boeing Additive Manufacturing; Boeing Research & Technology; Boeing Defense, Space & Security; Supply Chain and HorizonX; along with support from Accenture, hospitals and universities.
The company also announced its intent to offer the use of the Boeing Dreamlifter, one of the largest cargo carriers in the world, to help transport critical and urgently needed supplies to health care professionals. The Dreamlifter fleet consists of four specially adapted Boeing 747s with a max cargo weight of 63,000 pounds per plane.
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