Protolabs moves quickly to support Mercedes-AMG HPP and UCL with urgent CPAP device

Three new tools that will produce tens of thousands of critical parts for a new breathing aid designed to support Covid-19 patients are being manufactured in Telford.

Protolabs has created a dedicated 20-strong team to work with existing customer Mercedes-AMG High Performance Powertrains to develop injection mould tooling in just three days.

The company, which employs 450 people at its Telford headquarters, is helping the F1 team and partner University College London ramp up production of its CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) system that delivers oxygen into the lungs without the need for an invasive ventilator.

The first two tools are for moulding the bracket that will be used to hold the device next to the bed, whilst the third tool is for the production of a cap that prevents any air escaping from the machine.

Initial sample parts, made in nylon 30% glass fibre and Acetal co-polymer respectively, will be sent out for inspection shortly and, if successful, the company will push the button on run rates of 1100 parts per day until 10,000 of each component are manufactured.

The final devices and equipment will then be sent to 250 hospitals across the UK to help frontline staff provide the best possible care for Covid-19 patients.

Baninder Kaur, Strategic Account Manager at Protolabs and a key member of the team working with Mercedes-AMG HPP, commented: “Speed is of the essence for this project, as we need to get the CPAP systems to UCL as soon as possible.

“Within a few hours of the call, we had mobilised a dedicated design and manufacturing team to review the bracket’s design for manufacturability. This led to four quick iterations and the decision to make the bracket using two tools, allowing us to reduce lead times by running production simultaneously.”

She continued: “There were also some slight adaptions to the cap, with our engineers exploring the possibility of using one tool with two cavity moulds that would hit the 1100 daily required parts as well as keeping the accuracy in place.”

Involvement in the CPAP device is the latest example of how Protolabs is using its 3D printing, CNC machining and injection moulding expertise to support the frontline fight against Covid-19.

The world’s fastest digital manufacturer of prototypes and low volume production parts has played a key role in supporting Italian engineers Isinnova in the conversion of ‘Easybreath’ snorkelling equipment into ventilator masks.

3D printed ‘Charlotte’ and ‘Dave’ valves are being rapidly produced and shipped for the assembly of kits that can be used to create a non-invasive ventilator mask that will help save lives.

The company is also urgently working with a highly multiplexed molecular diagnostics specialist to produce a series of plastic cassettes that will help house a critical medical solution used in testing for Covid-19.

AusDiagnostics approached Protolabs to see if it could injection mould an initial 500 sample parts, a challenge that was immediately picked up by the on-demand manufacturer. The company is now ready to manufacture 20,000 cassettes at a time.

Bjoern Klaas, Vice President & Managing Director of Protolabs EMEA, concluded: “Protolabs employees continue to play a vital role in helping us support the needs of our customers in what is a generation-defining moment. I am extremely proud of the commitment and expertise everyone is showing and I am humbled that, in our own way, we can contribute to saving lives across the world.”

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