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Ford plans to build 1k respirators per month and 100k face shields per week (twitter.com)
27 points by hongzi 6 months ago | hide | past | favorite | 12 comments

I think 3D printing is overrated. If you have a mold shop and an injection molding machine, you can get a mold made in emergency mode within 24 hours (yes, its possible). Optimization can take another 24 hours and some blank shots. If you don't care about aesthetics, you can do it much, much quicker. Then, its 20 seconds per part for next 300,000 parts for dirt cheap. Raw polymers can be sourced rapidly as there is a very strong supply chain around the world.

3D printing said it will change the world in 2011. Then it said it will revolutionize manufacturing in 2015. Its 2020 and it didn't happen. Injection molding is not going anywhere. SLA litho has nicer quality parts but take exceedingly long to print and more importantly - clean/UV bake takes a long time to cure.

One area where 3D printing is actually useful is to be able to print parts that would be impossible to manufacture using injection molding - that cost to benefit ratio must be evaluated and questioned - do we really need a part like this? Perhaps its a dental implant, etc. Then it's justified.

I agree. I can't imagine how 3d printing is a solution for mass production unless you have no other skills or materials (but have time). As an individual, if I had to make more than 3 of something I'd 3d print the first (or fashion it some other way), make 1 or more molds and cast the rest.

How long would it take to spin up an injection molding line?

Aren't there parts that exist that are easier to 3D print, due to overlapping elements or internal geometry which require additional manufacturing steps when using injection molds?

Within 48 hours or less if there is a national emergency calling to get it done. The main time sink is CAD work to get the part designed, and then designing mold cavity and runners and getting the EDM die made, and running the EDM process to create cavity. The injection molding machine if run by a competent expert team - they already know most pitfalls of things such as rib/wall thickness, shot weight, run time and temperature for a particular type of plastic. You can run test shots and optimize the injection molding parameters in a very short time.

Alternatively, its possible to just use Aluminium molds for upto 10k parts.

It's good they're getting made, but the quantity and timeline is problematic. The US has on the order of 100,000 ventilators, and needs on the order of 1 million.

1000 per month won't really do much. It's a start is all.

What do you do with 1 million ventilators if you do not have the personnel to operate them? It's not just plugging a tube into the patient's throat and switching that machine on.

Also, i doubt 1 million is a realistic figure. I don't think things will get that bad.

Why not? When I run the numbers on what happens if we don't stop this thing, that's where they land.

Perhaps we'll stop it. Then we won't need them. Perhaps we won't. Then we will. I'd rather have them than play dice with a million lives.

The million number already has a discount over the worst-case, by the way. Worst-case, all 330 million people catch this, 5% end up critical, and we need >15 million.

And yes, we would need to train up people to run them. It'd be a real mess.

Normally a flu epidemic ultimately infects 1/3 of US population. If 2% need a ventilator we need 3 million.

The numbers are not pretty, however you run them.

I'm interested to see who will be able to build the melt-blown fabric machines needed for N95 masks/filters. The last number I saw showed China manufacturing 600,000 N95 masks per day, and 1/3rd of that was from a single factory that broke ground in February. I worry that reaching these kinds of milestones may take much longer in the USA.


Sadly, by the time we get any production volume of these things we will have missed the critical timeframe we needed them.

What I have learned from this crisis is apparently there are a lot more dyslexic people out there than I thought

Is respirator the same thing is ventilator?

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