GM 3D Prints Tooling for 30,000 Ventilator Parts During Pandemic

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As the COVID-19 pandemic swept the world, we have seen a new side of 3D printing—and its community of users on many different levels—as designs and products were needed to rapidly fill orders for personal protective equipment, medical equipment prototypes and nose swabs. While business is booming for these items, obviously, a GM team, now made up of over 700 employees trained in the use of additive manufacturing technology, expects its 3D printing facilities to stay busy long afterward.

At the end of last year, GM purchased 17 new Stratasys FDM 3D printers to begin taking advantage of classic benefits like speed in production, the ability to make strong yet lighter weight products, as well as saving on the bottom line.

“With the pace of change in modern industry accelerating and business uncertainty increasing, 3D printing technology is helping us meet these challenges and become more nimble as a company,” said GM’s director of additive manufacturing, Ron Daul. “Additive manufacturing is consistently providing us more rapid and efficient product development, tooling and assembly aids, with even more benefits to come.”

GM 3D printed tooling for ventilator parts

GM took action to supply 3D printed parts related to the viral pandemic, with an edge due to extensive experience with prototyping for automotive parts, including the 2020 Chevrolet Corvette—featuring a model that is comprised of 75 percent 3D printed parts, allowing for rigorous testing.

When the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services awarded the company the contract in April to provide 30,000 parts for ventilators (working with Ventec Life Systems), the GM team was ready. The project involved GM employees reverse engineering part data for ventilator tooling fixtures, and beginning to 3D print almost immediately, using their Stratasys systems. When they became overloaded regarding volume, GM was able to request parts on-demand from Stratasys Direct Manufacturing.

“GM is making the smart investments in 3D printing to succeed in this new normal of uncertainty and disruption,” said Stratasys Americas President Rich Garrity. “As a result, GM has manufacturing lines that are more adaptable and less expensive, and products that are developed faster and better. They are a clear model for the future of additive manufacturing in the automotive industry.”

GM team members working at the Additive Innovation Center

[Source / Images: Business Wire]

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