Over the next few weeks, Volkswagen Caminhões e Ônibus will donate two thousand face shields produced in its factory located in Resende (RJ) to city halls in the region, which they can distribute to professionals connected to essential services. Deliveries should start in the first half of May and will extend until June.
The action joins other efforts of the company to support the front of prevention and fight against the new coronavirus in the country. The automaker has also donated protective masks to hospitals in the South of Rio de Janeiro and distributes meals to truck drivers on the roads to help maintain the distribution of essential items throughout Brazil.
In order to streamline its production of this equipment, Volkswagen Caminhões e Ônibus increased its process, which ranges from 3D printing to vacuum casting technology to increase the manufacturing scale, which can reach 60 units per day.
“In the last few weeks, the largest national commercial vehicle development center, responsible for the manufacture of prototype parts for our launches, started to dedicate itself to a very differentiated and very noble activity: the creation of a model that would allow us to accelerate our production of face shields to support our frontline heroes in this prevention effort”, says Roberto Cortes, president and CEO of VWCO.
The destination of this protective equipment will be the city halls of the region, which they can distribute to professionals in contact with other people, such as those in the health area, street sweepers, garbage collectors, police, among others. The resin used is the same applied in the manufacture of prototypes, that is, high resistance. “By not restricting the process to 3D printing, we were able to expand our maximum production capacity for these protectors”, explains Rodrigo Chaves, vice president of Engineering at the automaker.
Process combines 3D printing technology with vacuum casting
The expertise of its designers allowed the creation of its own model in 3D printing. Based on this prototype, the professionals created a mold on their vacuum casting machine, which now serves as a reference for the injection of the resin that forms the basis of the face shield. This flow used by the automaker in the production of this equipment is the same as that of its main projects. To reach the final prototype part, the professionals use the 3D printer in which they develop the first version of the component. After manual finishing, this model is used to make the mold in which the casting will take place. Once this mold is positioned in the vacuum chamber, the pump is activated which eliminates all the air in the container. As soon as it reaches the required level, it starts filling with the resins that make up the material and that have already been mixed in their ideal proportions. To finish, just leave the prototype part in the greenhouse for a period of two hours. Finally, a team of toolmakers cuts and incorporates the acetate, which will make the protection shield.
Responsibility to the community
For Volkswagen Caminhões e Ônibus, promoting quality of life, especially with a focus on improving the health infrastructure of the communities in which it operates, is part of its social responsibility strategy. The company believes that this support is one of the pillars of a better society and, therefore, invests in initiatives that range from training young people for the job market to actions such as donating face shields and masks. “We work on several fronts, but our intention is always the same: to contribute to the communities in which we operate”, reinforces Marco Saltini, director of Government and Institutional Relations at VWCO