igus produces headbands for medical face shields

igus GmbH has joined a global collaborative effort to produce components
for face shields designed for protection against the coronavirus. Thanks to
injection moulding, more than 10,000 headbands leave igus’ Cologne factory
every week, helping accelerate aid for doctors and healthcare workers.

At the moment, the protection of medical personnel is one of the most
important challenges. However, a sufficient amount of appropriate equipment of
the necessary quality is not quickly available on the market. Solutions include
face shields, which private persons and companies are currently making all over
the world using 3D printing technology. igus has now applied itself to a core
problem that such production is facing and is donating the first 100,000 headbands
made with the injection moulding method.

In order to protect doctors, nursing personnel and other people who work
directly with patients, Prusa, a 3D printer manufacturer, has developed a face
mask and placed the design on the Internet for downloading free of charge. The
aim is to produce the face shields on as many 3D printers as possible. The
project is already regarded as a success in that individual people, maker
networks and companies all over the world are participating in the scheme and
are working flat out to additively produce the face shields. Initiatives such
as ‘Operation Shields Up!’ in the USA are bringing volunteers together on their
platforms. igus GmbH is taking part in this worldwide collaborative project and
is making use of the advantages of the injection moulding method.

Injection moulding enables
cost-effective mass production of face shields

It is extremely easy to make a face shield: a 3D printed plastic strap
holds a replaceable sheet of plastic film that shields the face. The face
shield is not a substitute for a protective mask that covers the mouth; such a
mask has to be worn additionally. However, the face shields do provide
additional protection, especially for the eyes. They also guard against the
natural instinct to touch one’s face and thus come into close contact with the
virus. However, despite the simple design, a central challenge remains.

“Several makers asked us whether we, as a tribo-filament manufacturer,
could provide them with material,” says Tom Krause, Head of Business Unit
Additive Manufacturing at igus.

“But that does not solve the real problem, which is that, if a 3D
printer is used, production of the headband as a central component is
comparatively expensive and takes more than two hours. This means that only a
few parts can be made per day.”

This is why igus has decided to rely on the advantages of another
method, namely injection moulding. Material recycled from iglidur A200 is used
as the material. Dr Thilo Schultes, who is in charge of tool making, says,
“With the right tool, it is possible to manufacture and ship out more than
10,000 headbands per week from the Cologne factory. As a result, we are able to
mass-produce the headbands quickly at considerably reduced costs.”

igus is manufacturing the tool at its own expense. The first 100,000
headbands are available free of charge, after which, they will be available at
the cost of production. If net yields are achieved, they will be donated to a
good cause.

For more information, please visit the Treotham Automation website www.treotham.com.au or call 1300 65 75

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