Using stacked model data, the company has publicised this data for free, with the idea of encouraging other businesses to use this method to assist in face-shield production.

Sandvik Coromant’s industrial facilities in Sweden are usually reserved for the processing of metal powders into engineered components. Today, the organisation’s metalworking expertise and 3D-printing capacity is being redeployed to produce personal protective equipment (PPE) for healthcare workers with some of the organisation’s plastic 3D printers.

Several businesses are already producing 3D-printed face shields. However, because 3D printers are usually restricted to printing one CAD file at a time, production output has been slow. To solve this problem, engineers at Sandvik Coromant’s Press Tools department developed a new modelling process to allow machines to recognise a stack of multiple face-shields as one solid CAD file.

Duplicating the 3D image data of a single face-shield, engineers at Sandvik Coromant are able to stack multiple shields on top of each other. Using a dual extruder, the 3D printer can then be instructed to create structural support between each product — essentially printing a thin string of plastic between each shield. Printing this support in water-soluble material allows the shields to be easily separated once printed.

Sandvik Coromant’s Press Tools division is now able to manufacture 42 plastic face-shields per 3D printer during each production batch —previously it took 48 hours to manufacture just one face-shield. Larger 3D printers could use this same technique to print up to 200 face-shields in a single production batch.

Sandvik Coromant’s Press Tools Division has halted all non-critical production runs for the 3D printers it has on site, with 75% of printing capacity now dedicated to producing face shields.

The shields will be donated to hospitals in the Sandviken-Gävle, Gävleborg and Stockholm regions of Sweden, but Sandvik Coromant anticipates the initiative will be replicated globally.