The Manufacturer caught up with HP’s Anne Sharp to discuss the lockdown lessons they will be showcasing during Digital Manufacturing week.
3D Printing or Additive Manufacturing (AM) as it is also known, has been a technology that has been around for a few decades now. The benefits of only using the material you need to create a product has had a revolutionary effect on the way engineers construct or reimagine production.
One of the limitations of 3D printing has been the uptake on a general level, with its use being more commonly associated with motorsport and aerospace. However, during the Covid-19 pandemic, the ability to quickly and effectively share designs and bring them into production has had a huge impact on the way manufacturers have responded.
The Manufacturer caught up with Anne Sharp, UK&I and Nordics Marketing Manager at HP 3D Printing to talk about the challenges of this year and look ahead to Digital Manufacturing Week and exhibiting at Smart Factory Expo.
HP helped to share critical design applications during the crisis to ensure a quick response in the fight against Covid-19, she said “HP took a massive step into really focusing on those applications. We set up a website, where we would funnel applications in there and share them worldwide. Anybody that had an application that we could certify and made sure that it was working, and prove that did what it’s supposed to do, we would share the file so that anybody could access it. At that stage, it wasn’t about, I’ve developed this, and I’m keeping it to myself, it was about, let’s get as many things out there as possible that can help people.”
The facts speak for themselves, within HP it took mere days to develop prototypes, and quickly mobilise their own R&D sites and a global partner network to produce urgently needed personal protective equipment (PPE). Files for face shields, masks, nasal swabs and more have been shared across borders and adapted for local needs and regulation.
HP has leveraged their own 3D printing R&D centres including their 150,000 sq. foot facility in Barcelona, and centres in San Diego, CA and Corvallis, OR, as well as their global partner and customer network to provide expertise, technology capabilities, and massive capacity for the design and production of COVID-19 parts.
As of June 1, 2020, more than 3.3 million 3D printed parts have been delivered to local hospitals by HP, and more parts are being produced by their customers.
The following parts have been created:
- 540,000 face shields for Canadian Govt
- 100,000 face shields for State of Nevada by HP partner Avid
- 45,000 face shields for hospitals by SmileDirectClub
- 45,000 PAPR hoods for hospitals by Superfeet
- Hundreds of thousands of nasal swabs by Abiogenix/Fathom and other manufacturing partners like Forecast 3D and ZiggZagg
- More than 50,000 PPE shields, mask adjusters produced by UK-based production partners
- Certification for world’s first 3D printed FFP2 face mask in Europe
Anne looked back on the past few months with pride at how HP and their customers have responded to the global demand, saying: “It affected us personally, you work for a big company, the employees are quite important to that company’s success, It was a huge collaboration. It made me extremely proud to be part of HP and know that they put so much effort into it. Most of our customers stopped normal production and basically were printing anything to help with the with the fight against Covid. I think what you saw is that we did not actually see any downturn in 3d printing on our machines. It was just they were printing other things than they were normally.”
HP are looking to bring these lockdown lessons to DMW and Smart Factory Expo to engage with the manufacturing industry, Anne said: “this is most comprehensive virtual event that I’ve seen for this industry.”
She enthused: “exhibitions aren’t just about selling things. They’re also about having conversations, and a lot of people go to exhibitions to learn, who’s doing what, catch up with people and networking is a massive part of the industry, people, buy, or start things based, a lot of the time on what other people are doing in the same field.”
She concluded: “I’m really glad that DMW hasn’t moved and that the event is actually running, I think it’s wrong to keep moving things. I think there is a chasm and a lack of activities going on out there. It is not about just putting a zoom on, we are past that, at the start, we were doing a lot of webinars, we have had huge attendances, and we were trying to share ideas. I think people have passed that webinar zoom stage, they want something a bit more interactive, more time, they want to be able to guide themselves through it. It is great that we have got a platform like DMW and Smart Factory Expo to do so.”
Make sure you and your team don’t miss out on the many exciting opportunities to accelerate your team’s understanding of digital manufacturing. Registration for Digital Manufacturing Week is now open, so start planning your visit today https://digital-manufacturing-week.com/register/.