Honda Produces Face Shields For Health Care Workers
Jerry Reynolds | June 4, 2020
I have to admit, if I needed a face shield, Iíd probably want Honda to make it. As part of its response to help protect frontline healthcare professionals during the COVID-19 pandemic, Honda is producing face shields for those on the front lines. Itís doing so with the help of its engineers who designed new methods to make them using equipment using existing manufacturing equipment.
As of June 1st, Honda says itís donated 70,000 face shields to healthcare workers at 305 medical facilities in 45 states. The automaker plans to donate another 60,000 in the coming days.
From Auto Parts to Face Shields
The shields for the masks are being made at Honda Engineering North America in Marysville, Ohio. Engineers made the face shields by designing new uses for high-speed injection-molding technology ordinarily used in the production of vehicle components. A Honda production facility in Canada is making the frames, shields and headbands for additional units.
"Team Honda has really stepped up to the challenge on a tight timeframe," said Hugo Beltran, associate chief engineer at EGA. "We make a car about every 50 seconds, and that's the same type of approach that we're taking for these face shields. We're using our mass production expertise and equipment to produce a large quantity of shields to help people in our communities."
Honda says it initially made the face shields using 3D printers at five manufacturing facilities back in March. But its engineers determined that the 3D printers could make enough to meet expected demand. So thatís how focus turned to Hondaís own in-house manufacturing capabilities: plastic injection molding.
Converting machines and processes that make plastic parts for automobiles into a production line for face shields was a complex task, according to Honda. It also required working with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to understand requirements and ensure that the shields were suitable for contact with skin.
After studying various designs in consultation with healthcare professionals, the team of Honda engineers began building a special die to enable the plastic injection molding equipment to produce over 3,000 face shields per hour.
The single-use shields have been authorized for use during the COVID-19 pandemic by the FDA pursuant to an Emergency Use Authorization.
"It was a comprehensive effort with our Honda design and manufacturing teams working together to quickly solve this challenge," said Eric Walli, Regional Planning Leader of Honda North America. "We were looking at materials, doing scientific work to understand if what we put in a face shield would be safe for humans to wear and all of this was occurring as we sought to rapidly begin, and then ramp up production."
Other COVID-19 Efforts
Hondaís taken other efforts as well to support COVID-19 relief efforts. It has assembled components for ventilators, provided modified Honda Odyssey minivans to transport people potentially infected with COVID-19, and pledged $1 million to provide communities with food. Itís also donated more than 200,000 items including gloves, N95 masks, alcohol wipes, half-mask respirators and other types of protective gear.
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