CHALLENGE: The Covid-19 virus has had an unprecedented impact on society. The healthcare system has borne a disproportionately large share of this disruption and has had to change its protocols and standard operating procedures on-the-fly as providers seek solutions to address new requirements for safety. In an effort to address the implications for faculty and staff using shared shuttle programs, buses needed to be fitted with custom-made sneeze guards to protect at risk bus drivers and maintain appropriate distancing while travelling.
SOLUTION: With the shuttle bus interior containing differing surface materials. The barriers needed to secure safely to the various surface materials such as fiberglass, fabric covered roof liners, metal tubing, and moulded plastic. On top of this, it also needs to cope with the constant movement and vibration of the bus.
GoProto partnered with Function Foundry, an industrial design and fabrication company, to custom manufacture protective barriers to serve as a shield for the shuttle bus drivers and their riders.
With supply chains being impacted by COVID-19 many off-the-shelf parts, such as clamps, fasteners and other raw materials were impossible to source. It also meant traditional tooling and moulding options would not be possible. Additive Manufacture became the most feasible option using HP 3D printing technology, with the design optimised to achieve the necessary mechanical strength and function.
Drew Fletcher of Function Foundry said: “This pandemic has created a bit of a traffic jam. Ordering specialty off-the-shelf hardware would have required a longer lead-time than simply 3D printing the exact parts we’d need”.
And, although the project could have been completed using “off-the-shelf” components. He felt that using 3D printed parts was a more effective and aesthetically pleasing option.
RESULT: GoProto was able to print and deliver custom parts with a shorter lead-time and at a lower cost, than traditional channels. They were able to deliver prototypes within days, and finished parts soon after, in the exact quantity needed. These 3D printed parts were custom designed and fit to address the unique mechanical challenges such as vibration concerns, interior contours, and differential surfaces.
Parts produced by Function Foundry addressed the protection concerns that were required to mitigate exposure, and looked like they were designed to be part of the shuttle bus structure from the start.
Jason Woodrow of GoProto said:
“MJF was the ideal fit for this project because of the durability of the parts and the unique requirement of dealing with vibration. For the project scope, nothing on the market could compete in terms of price, speed, and reliability.”
The entire process from design to 3D printed parts was approximately ten days. This allowed Function Foundry to compete the install in an additional two-week time frame.
During the install, a representative from the bus transport industry was there and was so impressed with the custom application that they might consider developing protective barrier kits for retrofitting future buses. With so many people and organisations looking to traditional sources for barrier protection, using 3D printing for future kits can reduce the turnaround time and offer solutions that many would not have thought of otherwise.
Jason feels that this partnership between Function Foundry and GoProto highlights that there are different ways beyond traditional PPE to help in response to COVID-19. And as the agility and flexibility of 3D printing from providers such as GoProto become more evident, those ideas could add significant ammunition to protecting our communities.
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