AM in the time of COVID-19Materials

Solvay supports COVID-19 efforts with materials expertise

The company is supplying thermoplastic films to Boeing for the production of face shields

Belgian chemical company Solvay is leveraging its extensive expertise in thermoplastic materials—and especially medical-grade plastics—to support various efforts aimed at fighting the COVID-19 pandemic. The company announced this week that it has partnered with aerospace company Boeing to support its production of 3D printed face shields, and it is offering additional support to healthcare providers and other companies seeking to help.

The company has issued the following statement about its COVID-19 relief efforts: “Our technical support centers located around the world are ready to support you through material selection, manufacturing support, relevant testing and regulatory certifications. We can also put you in touch with our extensive network of distributors, molders and machine shops.”

Among the areas that Solvay is addressing with its portfolio of materials is the production of ventilator components, visors for face shields, CAPRs and PAPRs, nonwovens for surgical and N95 face masks, lubricants for oxygen supply system parts and 3D printing filaments.

Solvay COVID-19

In the case of the latter, the company highlights its Radel PPSU and Ketaspire PEEK filaments, which are medical-grade and ISO 10993 biocompatible. The company says its Radel PPSU filaments are suitable for printing translucent face shield headbands, face mask aerators, valves, ventilator components and air dividers. Industrial filaments based on Radel PPSU, Ketaspire PEEK and Solef PVDF, can be used for rapid prototyping, demonstrators and bridging applications.

In other business areas, Solvay has started producing sanitizing gels and is supplying the base ingredients used for COVID-19 diagnostic formulations. The company’s full response can be found here.

Solvay & Boeing partnership

Solvay is also working with Boeing to deploy 3D printed face shields to help protect medical workers. The materials specialist is supplying high-performance, medical-grade transparent thermoplastic film to the aerospace company. The films are being made using Solvay’s Radel PPSU or Udel PSU polymers, which are both transparent and can be sterilized for medical use.

“We are honored to bring our product expertise to our customers in this time of crisis,” said Jeff Hrivnak, healthcare global business development manager for Solvay Specialty Polymers. “Boeing is rising to the occasion by providing more durable face shields, now in critical demand for our heroic healthcare workers, and we are proud to help make that possible.”

Boeing announced last week it would be shifting some of its manufacturing capacity, including its in-house 3D printing, to produce thousands of face shields per week for medical workers. The company will use AM systems across many of its facilities, including in St. Louis, Missouri; El Segundo, California; Mesa, Arizona; Huntsville, Alabama; and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

The aerospace giant has also offered the use of its Dreamlifter cargo carriers to help transport critical supplies to healthcare centers and institutions.

Learn about how other large AM companies are helping in COVID-19 relief efforts and how the additive industry is stepping up to help in this crisis.

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Tess Boissonneault

Tess Boissonneault moved from her home of Montreal, Canada to the Netherlands in 2014 to pursue a master’s degree in Media Studies at the University of Amsterdam. It was during her time in Amsterdam that she became acquainted with 3D printing technology and began writing for a local additive manufacturing news platform. Now based in France, Tess has over two and a half years experience writing, editing and publishing additive manufacturing content with a particular interest in women working within the industry. She is an avid follower of the ever-evolving AM industry.

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