Engineering 101

Leveraging 3D Printers in Michigan to Produce PPE

To assist medical workers fighting COVID-19 in its local communities, Nexteer Automotive is using its 3D printers in Tychy, Poland and Saginaw, Michigan to make medical-grade plastic masks and face shields. Nexteer is working with local government and medical organizations to donate the supplies to nearby medical facilities.

Nexteer is currently producing 50 face masks and 100 face shields each day through 3D printing, while exploring additional manufacturing processes expected to increase capacity to more than 1,000 masks per day.

In addition to producing masks, Nexteer’s Global Supply Management team is also working with the Company’s suppliers around the world to help procure medical equipment for local Nexteer communities.

“Around the world, our Nexteer team consists of smart, passionate problem solvers, and I’m so proud of how our team members have found creative solutions to help our local communities with much needed medical supplies,” said Robin Milavec, Senior Vice President, Chief Technology Officer & Chief Strategy Officer, Nexteer Automotive. “We will continue to work with local medical and government partners, as well as our suppliers, to provide much needed face masks and shields to help the brave medical teams on the frontlines fighting the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Face Shield Production in Tychy, Poland

Nexteer’s Engineering Team in Tychy, Poland is using its 3D technology to print around 100 visors (face shields) a day to help doctors and paramedics fight COVID-19. The team is working with the Municipal Office in Tychy to distribute the face shields to local medical services.

“Our 3D printers are typically used to create prototype steering systems for our automotive OEM customers, but our team found a creative solution to leverage our 3D technology to help our local community fight the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Piotr Dembiński, communications manager for Europe, Middle East, Africa & South America, Nexteer Automotive. “Within just two days of starting this initiative, our engineers were producing masks – showcasing the strength of our One Nexteer team when faced with a problem. We’re also offering to share our project details and key learnings with other companies looking to use their 3D technology to produce medical equipment.”

Face Mask Production in Saginaw, Michigan

Nexteer’s Engineering Team in Saginaw is currently using its 3D printers to produce masks in two sizes to provide a better fit for men and women. The initial prototypes were reviewed by members of Saginaw’s medical community before manufacturing began. The team is targeting production of approximately 50 masks per day. As of March 30, more than 150 masks had been given to Michigan Health Improvement Alliance, Inc. (MiHIA) to fit with filter material and elastic for ear straps.

“Our Saginaw site has a long history of helping our community and country in times of a crisis,” said Dan Dralle, Executive Director, Global Manufacturing Engineering, Nexteer Automotive. “During World War II, we produced M1 Carbines, and now our team is working around the clock to produce masks for the medical community to help in the fight against COVID-19.”

The Saginaw team continues to explore other options to increase mask production, such as working with a mould manufacturer to use an injection moulding machine in one of Saginaw’s plants to produce around 1,000 medical-grade plastic masks per day. The mould manufacturer is working around the clock to help speed up the development process so production can begin as soon as possible.

Milavec also stated that Nexteer had been approached by automotive OEMs to assist in their fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. While none of the opportunities have yet been a match for Nexteer, the Company remains in close communications with its customer OEMs to find ways to assist where possible.

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