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    UiTM Improvises Innovatively to Produce 30,000 Face Shields for Malaysian COVID-19 Frontliners

    Faculty of Mechanical Engineering (FKM), Universiti Teknologi MARA (UiTM) Shah Alam, Malaysia took a proactive measure to mass-produce face shields frame using a plastic injection molding process following the high demand from hospitals and clinics. There are a total of 13 locations around Klang Valley in Malaysia with 23 units of 3D printers which were distributed to the volunteers comprising of UiTM staff, mostly doing 3D printing jobs at various residential locations, focussing on design and optimization for the second stage by injection molding. Due to the high demand of more than 14,000 units within just one week after executing the project on 23rd March 2020 the initial plan of 3D printing activities could not be carried out. This was due to overwhelming demand as well as the restriction caused by the Movement Control Order (MCO) by the Malaysian Government.

    As 3D printing is not suitable for producing mass volume, the team started the design, simulation analysis, and fabrication of the mold by Computer-Aided Design/Computer-Aided Manufacturing (CAD/CAM) using the injection molding process instead. The faculty has one unit of medium industrial-scale injection molding of 120-tonne capacity, which has been used since 2007 for teaching, learning, and research purposes.

    However, to produce the face shield frame, Computer Numerical Control (CNC) machining of the mold cavity is required by using the model adopted from 3D printing before it is assembled and installed on the molding machine. Some modifications were made to ensure the design to suit the injection molding, taking into account the availability of the mold and tooling components in the laboratory as well as the capability of the machine. During machining of the mold, the team encountered several challenges such as shortage of parts and unmatched mold parts. Thanks to the innovative thinking of the skillful technical staff and assistance of industrial partners in getting parts during the challenging times of MCO, the mold was completely prepared within 3 days and assembled on the injection molding machine.

    Using plastic materials available in the laboratory, the first part was successfully injection molded on 29th March 2020.  On the first day of mass production on 30th March a total of 800 units of face shields were successfully produced, followed by more than 1000 units in the next consecutive days.  To date, the team has delivered approximately 30,000 units of face shields within 17 days and distributed to nearly 100 hospitals nation-wide, clinics, army personnel nationwide including to Sarawak Hospital in East Malaysia.

    Due to the awareness of the communities on the rising demand for face shields from front liners, a few institutions, and industries, who have injection molding machine came forward to show their support and solidarity by producing the face shields frame at their premises while other companies helped by contributing raw materials for institutions to run the injection molding.

    The team would like to thank all volunteers especially lecturers, technical and administrative staff from FKM main campus, FKM branch campuses, Mechanical Engineering Faculty Alumni Society (MEFAS), Makerlab and Kelantan Branch for the CSR Face Shield UiTM Project 2020 and not forgetting the industry partners AA3D Shop, Gaia Plas Berhad, Pebble 3D Sdn Bhd and 3D Gens Sdn Bhd for the continuous support. Also a note of appreciation goes to industry partners for the sponsorship of raw materials for the injection molding, namely PETRONAS, Hicom Teck See, Seco Technology Sdn Bhd, and Intan Teknik (M) Sdn Bhd.