Shropshire-based Protolabs (www.protolabs.co.uk
), a rapid digital manufacturer of prototypes and low-volume production parts, is using its 3-D printing, CNC machining and injection moulding expertise to support the frontline fight against COVID-19.
The company, which employs over 450 people at its base in Telford, has played a key role in supporting Italian engineers in the conversion of ‘Easybreath’ snorkelling equipment into ventilator masks.
3-D printed ‘Charlotte’ valves are being rapidly produced and shipped direct to its customer Isinnova, which is producing kits that can be used to create a non-invasive ventilator mask that will help save lives.
Protolabs is also working with AusDiagnostics, a highly multiplexed molecular diagnostics specialist, to injection mould 500 plastic cassettes that will help house a critical medical solution used in testing for COVID-19.
The first CAD drawings were not fit for manufacture so were quickly updated and the right material specified, with production now underway with parts set to shipped by 9 April.
Bjoern Klaas, Vice President and Managing Director of Protolabs Europe, said: “We are currently working on a number of customer projects that are critical to the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The ‘Charlotte’ valve in Italy is already having a really positive impact on the challenge faced by medical staff and the wider society, while our latest involvement with AusDiagnostics is crucial in the national ramp up of testing for the virus.”
He continued: “The tests will be used by over 20 large NHS Trust hospitals in the UK, as well as medical diagnostics centres around Europe.
“The customer makes almost 200 kits a day, but this figure will increase rapidly to meet the demand for more testing, with our injection moulding line ready to manufacture 20,000 cassettes every quarter.
“Digital manufacturing provides incredible speed of development and continues to be essential in equipping frontline staff with the solutions they need.”
Protolabs provide critical design, engineering and manufacturing services to medical supply chains, telecommunications providers, energy companies, water treatment services and other sectors.
The company will continue to remain operational across its UK and German manufacturing facilities, ensuring that staff adhere to work from home policies where possible and adopt hygiene and social distancing measures.
Mr Klaas concluded: “Protolabs employees play a vital role in helping us support the needs of our customers in what is a generation-defining moment.
“I am extremely proud of the commitment and expertise everyone is showing and I am humbled that, in our own way, we can contribute to saving lives across the world.”