Protolabs plays key role on Covid-19 projects

Written by: Paul Fanning | Published:

Protolabs, which employs over 450 people at its European headquarters in Telford, is playing a key role in supporting Italian engineers in the conversion of ‘Easybreath’ snorkelling equipment into ventilator masks for front line medical staff.

3D printed ‘Charlotte’ valves are being rapidly produced and shipped direct to its customer Isinnova, who are producing kits that can be used to create non-invasive ventilator masks that will help save lives.

The GTMA supplier 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 500 sample parts, a challenge that was immediately picked up by the Shropshire-based on- demand manufacturer. The first CAD drawings were not fit for manufacture so were quickly updated and the right material specified, and production was set to be shipped by early April.

“We’re currently working on a number of customer projects that are critical to the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Bjoern Klaas, Vice President and Managing Director of Protolabs Europe. “With the ‘Charlotte valve’ in Italy it is already having a really positive impact on the challenge faced by medical staff and the wider society, whilst our latest involvement with AusDiagnostics is crucial in the UK’s ramp up of testing for the virus. “The tests will be used by over 20 large NHS trust hospitals in the UK, as well as medical diagnostics centres across Europe.

The customer makes almost 200 kits a day, but this figure will increase rapidly to meet the demand for more testing, with our injection moulding line ready to manufacture 20,000 cassettes every quarter. “Digital manufacturing can provide incredible speed of development and continues to be essential in equipping our front line staff with the solutions they need.” Protolabs provides critical prototyping and manufacturing services to medical supply chains, telecommunications providers, energy companies, water treatment services and other sectors vital to keep society moving. The company will continue to remain operational across its UK and German manufacturing facilities, ensuring that staff adhere to work from home policies where possible, and hygiene and social distancing measures. Bjoern concluded: “Protolabs employees 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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