1000 face shields per day for Medical Center

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Following the design and publication of our open source face shield we got requests from various hospitals to produce large quantities. At the moment our production is in full swing and the first batches of face shields are being used. Read below how we have managed to do that last week.

Unprecedented take off

During the weekend we have started producing. The face shield consists of four parts and three different materials. The screens from PET (polyester) can be cut at twelve pieces at a time with our SPOTmini machines. This is done at a high pace: our operators are constantly changing the material sheets and do not have time to source the materials from our storage supply and to manage the production outflow. Therefore we hired additional staff members. The POM (polyacetal) parts take most time to produce. For producing these parts we choose our so-called autoSPOT machine. It is our fastest machine with an autopmated feed and output. Programming it takes some more time but once production runs it's very fast. Usually a lot of fine-tuning the settings takes place during the first hour of production to optimize the efficiency. For example an extra, tiny cutting line to release the material surplus, an extra tool to process the parts faster, a better workplace layout. The smallest details count. 

During the first weekend we produced 1000 sets.

Increasing numbers

On workdays we have scheduled various shifts to increase our capacity. Some emplyees started earlier in the morning than usual and others started around noon to work in the afternoon and evening. Thus we were able to upscale our daily production up to 4000 parts on top of our regular orders. To be able to handle the regular orders we have temporarily disabled the option for a rush delivery (lead time of one day). 

Next challenge in line was the sourcing of materials. The European production channels are currently in disorder due to the Corona crisis and many suppliers can not deliver enough sheet materials. With the much appreciated help of some customers and partners we were able to get our hands on enough sheets. The result was that we needed to switch to a thicker POM (polyacetal) because we did not have sufficient sheets of 1.5 mm. The maintain the stiffness of the face shield we have altered the design 'on-the-fly'. This allowed us to cancel out the difference in thickness and still produce face shields with the same quality.

Volunteers

During the first two days more than 100 volunteers applied to help with the assembly of the parts. A closed-down factory space was transformed in a very short time to an assembly unit. Daily a team of 12 volunteers works top assemble and pack the face shields under supervision of Gerard. Each day the production of that day is delivered at the Erasmus Medical Center, one of the largest hospitals in The Netherlands.

A week after commissioning Snijlab we had delivered 5000 face shields. At the moment we are pushing production towards 20.000 pieces.

Digital production in Western Europe

This project shows how valuable it is to produce locally. It also displays the strength of digital production. The technology of digital manufacturing provides us the freedom to produce any shape from scratch without expensive and time-consuming moulds or other tools. We can handle challenging circumstances like material shortages and other supply chain issues much more agile than regaular production methods and more traditional industries. 

The weak spot of digital production is its low capacity but we have steered clear of this by developing innovative machines which can laser cut fast in large quanities. Serial digital production bridges the gap between prototyping/3D-printing and traditional mass production. It allows for a much more agile production in fast changing circumstances.

We are proud to contribute a little in the fight against the corona virus.

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