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  • Chidozie Uzoezie

Working Outside the Box: How Airbus is Fighting Against COVID-19

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to present an unprecedented threat to human life, Airbus’ employees across the world are working ‘outside the box’ to fight against the virus.

At the end of March, Airbus launched 30 projects, including a doorknob catch to avoid touching door handles. Manufacturing medical equipment such as filters for ventilators, masks, visors and glasses also were considered, as was a system for recycling masks.

In Spain, Airbus employees are working around the clock to make visor frames for protective face masks using innovative 3D printing technology. More than 20 printers across Airbus sites in Spain have been working non-stop for weeks.

Together, Spanish employees from all sites are producing 300 visor frames a day, with thousands already being donated.

Every afternoon, the produced hardware is collected and distributed to local Spanish hospitals by those with special government mobility authorisation during the lockdown.

In Germany, ProtoSpace Germany, the Composite Technology Centre (CTC) in Stade, and the “Mobility Goes Additive” 3D printing network” are all producing visor frames for the virus-impacted Madrid region.

And in France, Airbus’ Survey Copter tactical drone division is making visors for use by Spanish medical staff.

3D printing technology also is at the heart of COVID-19 support activities from employees at Airbus’ Wichita, Kansas Engineering Centre in the USA. This site normally focuses on wing design for Airbus’s long-range aircraft.

Working remotely, these team members are helping 3D-print headbands for a crowdsourced protective face shield design from Prusa Research – which also consists of a polycarbonate shield and elastic strap.

In the UK, Airbus is answering the government’s urgent call for medical ventilators as part of the VentilatorChallengeUK Consortium which includes BAE Systems, Ford, GKN, Rolls-Royce, and Siemens and Thales.

Currently, the UK has about 8,000 ventilators, however it is expected to need up to 30,000 during the COVID-19 pandemic.

With an urgent order for over 10,000 ventilators to fulfil, the consortium is working at full speed to define its product and ramp up production.

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