Italian luxury automobile manufacturer, and part of the Volkswagen Group, Lamborghini has in the space of two weeks developed lung simulators to aid in ventilator production. The Sant’Agata, Bologna-based supercar manufacturer is only a few hours drive away from the hard-hit Bergamo area in Italy and in the midst of a society that across the board has been deeply affected by COVID.
Lamborghini has previously used 3D Printing for bridge manufacturing when it had an issue with an injection mold on its Gallardo cars in 2003. Then a relatively obscure part, the headlight washer flap, was 3D printed for the first production vehicles by CRP Technology. Since then the company has mainly used the technology on the factory floor and in developing cars. With low volumes and high prices, Lamborghini keeps a lot of manufacturing in house and has a lot of bespoke options. The high-end car creator, therefore, has quite a bit of engineering and 3D printing knowledge in house.
Until now the firm has used this to make face masks, some of which should be ultra-desirable. The firm should really sell them for $200 and donate the money! But, for now they’re using the masks to protect staff and donate to the local Sant’Orsola-Malpighi Hospital.
Stefano Domenicali, Chairman and CEO of Automobili Lamborghini, commented: “During an emergency such as this one, we feel the need to make a concrete contribution. We have therefore decided to support the Sant’Orsola-Malpighi Hospital, an institution with which we have had a collaborative relationship for years, through both professional consultancy in promoting programs to protect our workers’ health, and in research projects. We will win this battle together by working in union, supporting those who are at the forefront of fighting this pandemic every day.”
The firm also used its internal Carbon machines to produce parts for face shields. The company says that,
“One thousand masks a day will be made in the Upholstery Department, the department that produces the interiors and customizations for Lamborghini cars. At the same time, 200 protective medical shields in polycarbonate a day will be made inside the composites production plant and at the Research and Development department with the use of 3D printers.”
While admirable what Lamborghini is doing now is very impactful and just the kind of thing that can showcase our technology’s prowess. 3D Printing excels at filling gaps, at making what is needed when it is needed. We are good at iterating, improving, changing designs and making the new faster than other technologies. And this is why I love that Lamborghini used 3D printing to work with SIARE Engineering International Group to make lung simulators.
SIARE is an anaesthesia and Intensive Care equipment company making, amongst other things, the much in demand currently, lung ventilators. Ventilators are highly regulated devices and are class III FDA devices. They require precise tolerances and certification to work safely and surely specifically because they take over breathing for an intubated individual. SIARE just like many of its competitors is responding to unprecedented demand for its products. There are currently a number of open source and manufacturing companies new to ventilators trying to scale up making them. Frankly, this terrifies me, and whereas I believe in the long run that “given enough eyeballs all problems are shallow” the prospect of hastily made or designed ventilators being used in patients is frightening to me. You can’t scale or immediately create tribal knowledge and a specific culture of care, process, and safety. Lamborghini isn’t switching from crankshafts to ICU however, instead the firm is helping SIARE scale.
“The breathing simulator enables the tester to carry out an initial evaluation of the ventilator’s performance before reaching the final testing stage, when the ventilator undergoes a comprehensive test using certified equipment.”
Lamborghini is using HP’s Multi Jet Fusion to make a breathing simulator that is used to test each ventilator that goes out of the SIARE factory. They’re using a HP Jet Fusion 3D 4200 to make 18 of these simulators each week. Instead of doing the far more attention-grabbing “make the final part 3D printed” step the company is focusing on letting the ventilator experts make and test more ventilators. The company took two weeks to go from an idea to “design, produce and validate the simulator, optimizing the components” for production. Lamborghini will print out and make the lung simulators in its own prototyping lab in Sant’Agata.
This kind of thing should really be encouraged and more firms should be looking at how to use 3D printing to help firms struggling to keep up with demand, scale. This is something that our technology is ideally suited for. Jigs, fixtures, new hand tools, optimizations that are all needed quickly in a versatile way is our metier.
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