umlaut has produced medical face protection in a design sprint – from concept to product in under a week.
Hamburg, 2020/04/03 – Now is a good time to be thinking with your hands – “hands” being a term that engineers use quite loosely to include, for example, 3D printers and fully automated CNC mills.
In no time at all they have set up a production line for face shields and masks and on Thursday the first batch of 100 was shipped to a hospital dispensary in North Hesse, Germany.
Consultant Caroline Weber initiated the project together with Lucas Heckmann. “It all started with a message from my brother.” It was a photo of him wearing a respirator with a taped on HME filter. “I just thought: we must be able to do better than that.” On Monday, an interdisciplinary team of engineers and consultants met in a virtual workplace, played around with 3D models and sent the data to the printers. The first mask was tested the same day and iteration began. Over the weekend the design was improved in two cycles.
At the same time, the engineers tested designs for a face shield. The 3D printer manufacturer, Prusa, published it and was granted a release from the Czech Ministry of Health in record time. It takes two hours to print a shield. “The first were given to umlaut colleagues who work in essential areas,” Weber says. A hospital dispensary expressed an interest and since then umlaut’s printers have been running non-stop – the first 100 have already been delivered.
“We were only able to develop the finished product so quickly thanks to the tireless efforts of our engineers Timo Krabbemeyer, Ulf-Dieter Ulken, Benedikt Sürig and Michael Karafiat. I was very impressed,” says Weber. “For me it was further proof that, with teamwork, it’s possible to achieve an unbelievable amount in a very short amount of time – even if you’re not in the same place. And it shows that we take rapid prototyping seriously.” Alejandro Areta Díaz, a colleague in the USA, is now checking whether they can produce face protection there too.