Airbus 3D prints visors to help halt spread of Covid-19

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Airbus sites in Europe are 3D printing visor frames and making protective gowns to help protect healthcare personnel in the fight against Covid-19.

Although most Airbus sites are shutdown while Covid-19 reaches peak infection rates, plants in Spain, France and Germany have switched to producing protective equipment. Employees are allowed on site to continue with essential activities such as this during the manufacturing pauses across Europe.

Protection equipment is being produced at the Getafe, Ilescas, Albacete, Tablda and San Pablo sites in Spain. More than twenty 3D printers are working 24 hours a day at the Getafe factory to produce protective visors, while the site at Illescas is also producing plastic protective gowns.

In total, the network of 3D printers in Spain is producing around 300 visors a day and hundreds of visors have already been produced and dispatched to hospitals, said Airbus. The visor frames are being printed with PLA (Polylactic acid) plastics using a patented design.

Alvaro Jara, head of the Airbus Protospace digital fabrication workshop in Getafe, Madrid said, “One of the reasons I love my job is the capability we have for advanced design and quick manufacture. Overnight, we have gone from making aerospace concepts to medical equipment.

“This genuinely makes a difference in the fight against the pandemic and I couldn’t be prouder of our teams working day and night on this Airbus project.”

Airbus sites in Germany have also joined the project, including the Protospace Germany and the Composite Technology Centre in Stade. The 3D-printing supply chain and advice network “Mobility goes Additive,” is also supporting the Spanish project by coordinating the collection and transport of visors to the Madrid region for use.

In Pierrelatte, France, Survey Copter, the tactical drones division of Airbus, is producing protective visors in partnership association with the Montélimar “Convergences 26” FabLab in Drome Ardèche.

Fused deposition modelling (FDM) 3D printers that are normally used to build drones are being used to produce visors. One machine prints a visor in around 45 minutes.

The visors are being shipped to medical staff in the Montélimar and Valence university hospitals, freelance nurses, retirement homes and Town Halls in the Ardèche and Drome départements.

Meanwhile in the UK, Airbus is one of the companies contributing to the “Ventilator Challenge”. The challenge aims to produce tens of thousands of extra ventilators for use by the National Health Service during an anticipated spike in coronavirus cases there.

A 3D printed mask made at Survey Copter in southern France

A 3D printed mask made at Survey Copter in southern France (Image: Airbus)

 

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Ben has worked all of his career as a journalist and now editor, covering almost all aspects of technology, engineering and industry. In the last 20 years he has written on subjects from nuclear submarines and autonomous cars to future design and manufacturing technologies and commercial aviation. Latterly editor of a leading engineering magazine, he brings an eye for a great story and lots of experience to the team.

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