Honda Uses Its Expertise to Ramp Up Face Shield Production
Jeffrey Heimgartner posted on July 01, 2020 |
Honda engineers convert machines and processes into a production line for face shields.

Since the world changed in March due to the pandemic, Honda has continued to lead the pack in producing protective equipment for frontline health care workers. The company started by making  face shield frames with 3D printers at five of its facilities. As demand grew, a team of engineers began working on new methods to produce the shields in greater numbers.

The team’s focus landed on using plastic injection molding. The in-house equipment, normally used for making automotive plastic parts, required some complex conversions and process changes to produce face shields. Honda consulted with health care professionals, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to ensure that the face shields met requirements.

Instead of automotive plastic parts, a new production line with the capacity to produce 3,000 face shields per hour has been set up. (Image courtesy of Honda.)
Instead of automotive plastic parts, a new production line with the capacity to produce 3,000 face shields per hour has been set up. (Image courtesy of Honda.)

Through extensive research, the Honda team developed a special die that allows for the injection molding equipment to be used for the face shields. Their efforts resulted in the ability to produce 3,000 face shields per hour.

“Team Honda has really stepped up to the challenge on a tight time frame,” said Hugo Beltran, associate chief engineer at Honda Engineering North America (EGA). “We make a car about every 50 seconds, and that’s the same type of approach that we’re taking for these face shields. We’re using our mass production expertise and equipment to produce a large quantity of shields to help people in our communities.”

While the Honda EGA facility in Marysville, Ohio, produces the face shields, the whole process is a team effort. Honda of Canada (HCM) contributes frames, shields and headbands. The Canada team worked with Ontario-based Molded Precision Components (MPC) to transform a warehouse into a frame-component production area, which included the installation of eight new injection molding machines. Honda also lent its expertise to Sterling Industries in Concord, Ontario, to increase that company’s production of headbands and shields.

“It was a comprehensive effort, with our Honda design and manufacturing teams working together to quickly solve this challenge,” said Eric Walli, regional planning leader of Honda North America. “We were looking at materials, doing scientific work to understand if what we put in a face shield would be safe for humans to wear, and all of this was occurring as we sought to rapidly begin, and then ramp up production.”

To date, Honda has donated more than 70,000 face shields to 305 medical facilities across the U.S. With new coronavirus cases continuing to emerge, the company has no plans of slowing down and will soon donate another 60,000 face shields.

Health care workers at Mary Rutan Hospital in Bellefontaine, Ohio, are among the recipients of face shields manufactured at Honda Engineering North America in Marysville, Ohio. (Image courtesy of Honda.)
Health care workers at Mary Rutan Hospital in Bellefontaine, Ohio, are among the recipients of face shields manufactured at Honda Engineering North America in Marysville, Ohio. (Image courtesy of Honda.)

The well-known automotive company is also helping with the COVID-19 pandemic in a number of other ways. Its efforts have included ventilator component assembly and the donation of gloves, N95 masks and other protective gear. The company also announced that, along with General Motors, it will be producing 12,000 gallons of hand sanitizer through the Fuel Cell System Manufacturing (FCSM) partnership. Honda plans to donate about 75 percent of the hand sanitizer to health care facilities.

“It is inspiring to see how the automotive industry continues to find new and innovative ways to help society during this crisis,” said Cathy McEvilly, senior vice president & general counsel of Honda North America. “The commitment shown by Honda associates and their counterparts at GM is a source of pride to us, and we are happy to provide something to help the brave health care professionals fighting this pandemic every day.”

Interested in how other organization are contributing to coronavirus efforts? Check out Curbell Plastics Supports Partners During COVID-19 Pandemic and Experts Share Best Practices for 3D Printing COVID-19 Personal Protective Equipment.


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