Airbus Printing Hospital Visors


Airbus has started using its additive manufacturing (3D-printing) facilities in Spain to produce visor frames for hospitals in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. According to the company, it has already produced hundreds of visors using more than twenty 3D printers. The equipment is being distributed to hospitals near Airbus’ facilities in Spain.

“Overnight, we have gone from making aerospace concepts to medical equipment,” said head of Airbus Protospace Alvaro Jara. “This genuinely makes a difference in the fight against the pandemic and I couldn’t be prouder of our teams working day and night on this Airbus project.”

Airbus also announced that it is halting all nonessential production activities in Spain until April 9. The shutdown is in accordance with new measures introduced by the Spanish government aimed at slowing the spread of the virus. As previously reported by AVweb, Airbus also stopped production for four days in Spain and France in mid-March due to the pandemic.

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Kate O’Connor works as AVweb's Editor-in-Chief. She is a private pilot, certificated aircraft dispatcher, and graduate of Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.

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  1. Injection molding takes a long time to set up and dial in. A compromise approach is to use polyurethane casting. The molds are made by casting medium-soft polyurethane around the part you want to replicate and once the mold sets, you peel it off and use it to make more parts using polyurethane of the desired hardness. A bit slower approach is to use CNC techniques to make the molds from Aluminum or steel and use them to make poured polyurethane parts. Those molds last a long time and the set up time is fast.
    I have used both of these techniques to make prototype parts and some production parts and it works great. 3D printing is good for initial prototypes, but poured urethane is the way to go to quickly ramp up production.