How Skoda Auto is 3D Printing Medical Equipment At Its Plant

Here's a walkthrough video of medical equipment being made at Skoda Auto's plant at Chakan in Pune.

Car and Bike
2 min read

Not much production of cars or bikes is taking place at any of the automakers in India. However, a number of them have dedicated their resources to making protective and medical equipment such as face shields, mechanical ambu bags, oxygen masks, and ventilators to fight the COVID-19 pandemic.

Have you wondered how this equipment, which isn’t really a car makers main focus, is made? We got a walkthrough of the process, which includes 3D printing, at Skoda Auto Volkswagen India’s Chakan plant in Pune. The company is supplying over 12,000 units of protective medical equipment to Sassoon Hospital in Pune, to health and hygiene workers and the police among other places.

I caught up with Austin Diaz, general manager and head of ramp-up management at Skoda Auto Volkswagen India who walked me through the production process on a video call.

The first product is a face shield that protects health workers from droplet infections. The face shield has an elastic band and a 1mm thick plastic shield that covers the face, ears, eyes, nose, and mouth. It has a foam strip for comfort.

To prevent the glue from coming off, the foam is zip-tied to the shield. That’s because the face shields are dipped in sanitizing solution often.

The company is also making an intubation box which is used in operation theatres to prevent doctors from getting infected while incubating (pushing an oxygen tube through the throat into the lungs) a patient.

It also manufactures mechanical ambulatory bags or ambu bags using in-house materials from its car plant. It's in the process of getting that approved for medical use.

And then comes 3D-printing. It is using a Decathalon snorkeling mask as a design for an oxygen mask. This is equipped with an HME filter (heat and moisture exchange) to prevent infections. The adapter and splitter used with this mask to supply oxygen are printed on a 3D-printing machine at the plant.

The equipment is being supplied for free as part of the company's CSR activity to Sassoon Hospital, Pune, police personnel, healthcare workers and other hospitals as far as Latur in Maharashtra.

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