When the automotive industry started making respirators

Car manufacturers have been tasked with retraining their facilities to become respirator manufacturers due to the health emergency.

The effects of the health emergency created by the coronavirus are felt on all fronts. In the motor world, many factories have stopped production. The need to avoid contagion has forced some of these centers to be closed, by order of the authorities (as happened in China) or by a willingness to prevent. However, these automotive vehicle manufacturers may now become respirator manufacturers.

This medical equipment is one of the main needs at the moment, to assist seriously ill patients in hospitals. The shortage of this equipment is one of the main challenges of the health systems of the different countries that address this crisis. Hence, in China, the United States and elsewhere, some automotive manufacturers have turned to respirators.

In the United States, the government agency FDA (Food and Drug Administration) has relaxed barriers to the approval of medical devices. It has done so precisely to encourage the production of respirators. And the motor industry has been launched. General Motors, Ford and Tesla have said they will dedicate resources to make more equipment of this type. The Japanese firm Nissan has made an announcement to the same effect. All of these companies are trying to become respirator manufacturers in the midst of the crisis.

Ford has already said it works with General Electric and 3M, the provider of medical supplies, to modify the design of some respirators. The objective is that components such as batteries and fans, which Ford uses in its cars, can be used for its production. It is about using their productive capacity to serve the health system.

fabricantes de respiradores

Everyone’s contribution
The role of the automotive industry in the coronavirus crisis is another example of the mobilization that civil society (and the military) has launched. The conversion of factories that until recently made cars to create medical equipment is admirable. But so is the massive collaboration of people. And it is that when manufacturing, 3D printing allows many fans to join forces and coordinate.

Low cost artificial respirators have been created, although they need the certification of the authorities, and necessary products, such as valves for existing equipment or protective masks. The 3D printing of masks has been another contribution to which the community of makers has launched.

Images: RAEng_Publications, stux

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