AM in the time of COVID-19AM Industry

SLM Solutions partners with MAGNET to produce molds for face shields

The plastic tools were 3D printed in stainless steel at the Wixom (MI) facility

As part of its Additive Alliance Against Corona initiative, SLM Solutions used its metal 3D printing technology to produce plastic injection tooling molds to mass manufacture face shield headbands for the Manufacturing & Advocacy Growth Network (MAGNET), a manufacturing consulting firm in Ohio. SLM Solutions 3D printed the molds in its Wixom, Michigan facility enabling MAGNET to save time and money in additively manufacturing the tooling needed to produce the face shields quickly.

For more than 30 years, MAGNET has been driving Northeast Ohio’s manufacturing growth by supporting small and mid-sized manufacturers. They provide hands-on support with business consulting, new product design, operations excellence, and workforce innovation, bringing industry, education, and community leaders together to create tomorrow’s manufacturers. With the outbreak of the COVID-19 virus, the Governor of Ohio realized that face shields for frontline healthcare professionals would be required. He formed the Ohio Manufacturing Alliance to Fight COVID-19, of which MAGNET was a part.

molds for face shields
One half of the 3D printed mold used to produce the face shields.

MAGNET was seeking to acquire injection mold tools to assist in the manufacturing of the face shields, specifically the headbands. Dave Pierson, Senior Design Engineer at MAGNET wanted to additively produce them to bypass conventional supply-chain complications. Pierson approached SLM Solutions. “I chose SLM Solutions because of their quad laser system,” said Pierson. “We needed the parts as soon as possible. The speed and throughput that their quad laser machine has available was a critical aspect of the decision to work together.”

At the time, SLM Solutions had just launched the Additive Alliance Against Corona initiative to combat COVID-19 and was happy to help. Jill Christner, President of SLM Solutions Americas, decided to halt normal day to day activities at their Wixom, Michigan facility and give MAGNET’s project top priority. “Responding quickly to MAGNET’s project was important for SLM Solutions” said Christner “it is an honor to be a small part of the solution to protect the health and safety of those who serve as well as utilizing the value of our additive technology to quickly produce new products and designs reducing the lead time of traditionally casted methods.”

SLM Solutions was able to print the mold using 316 stainless steel; the build was completed in two halves, each taking four days to print and one day for heat treatment. “SLM exceeded my expectations on their quality and delivery. Once received, the SLM print had to have some finish machining and polishing but then was quickly mounted to the machine base and we were up and running” said Pierson. “The SLM additively manufactured mold is now producing face shields that are being used by medical professionals across the state of Ohio.”

 

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Victor Anusci

Victor does not really exist. He is a pseudonym for several writers in the 3D Printing Media Network team. As a pseudonym, Victor has also had a fascinating made-up life story, living as a digital (and virtual) nomad to cover the global AM industry. He has always worked extra-hard whenever he was needed to create unique content. However, lately, as our editorial team has grown, he is mostly taking care of publishing press releases.

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