O-I Glass, Inc. is using its 3D printing capabilities to make face shield frames, a piece of personal protective equipment (PPE), for members of the Northwest Ohio medical community who are on the front lines of the COVID-19 health crisis.
The worldwide glass packaging manufacturer typically devotes its 3D printer at the Perrysburg, Ohio, headquarters to creating new glass packaging prototypes for the food and beverage industry. When Robex, an area industrial automation company, reached out to coordinate a plan to produce face shields to help area medical workers, O-I jumped at the chance.
Face shields in the medical community resemble a welder’s mask. Nurses and physicians often use the shields along with surgical masks to add another protective layer to guard against airborne viruses. O-I is making frames to hold the shield.
While the company’s global campus is closed to office workers because of COVID-19, O-I is making these reusable face shield frames around the clock by using its existing pool of essential employees—the security and maintenance crew.
“We produced a short training video to show them how,” says Senior Program Manager Brian Chisholm. “They started producing the products almost immediately.”
Security staff is timing their rounds so they can be in O-I’s Glass and Materials Science Lab to remove completed print jobs and start new ones; the new frames will be ready by the next time they conduct their rounds in the lab.
David Hoadley, O-I’s director of Innovative Package Solutions, says the security and maintenance employees were eager to help: “Everybody wants to feel like they are contributing.”
The plan came together over the Good Friday and Easter holiday weekend. O-I delivered the first batch of frames Saturday. Craig Francisco, vice president of strategy at Robex, says, “O-I has committed resources and technology to help us keep up with demand.” He says the project has “been emotionally fueled with sincere gratitude” as medical workers receive the PPE.
As the leader in manufacturing sustainable glass packaging, this project continues that tradition. The face shield frames are reusable, while 3D printing is “as close to zero waste manufacturing as you can get,” Hoadley says.
O-I’s staff is able to produce about 150 face shield frames each week and plans to continue to help as long as hospitals and other health care workers need it.
As glass container makers, O-I is part of the food and beverage supply chain that many governments around the world have deemed essential during COVID-19.