3D printing, a pillar of industry 4.0, has made a vital contribution to saving lives during the covid-19 pandemic. In Brazil, the rapid turnaround and, especially, the low cost of production processes, already are helping to make items such as face shields and prototypes of lung ventilators. A reference in the segment in Brazil, Braskem has donated 120 reels of plastic filaments for 3D printing and is supporting the work of 12 research centers in 3D printing in the states of Bahia, Rio de Janeiro, Rio Grande do Sul and São Paulo.
The polypropylene filament made by Braskem for use in 3D printers is being used to make headbands for some 5,000 face shields, which will be donated to medical professionals working in the public healthcare system in the regions of the research centers. The face shields were donated, in Bahia, to the Bahia State Science and Technology Department, which redistributed them to seven technological centers of SENAI in the state's interior region; in Rio de Janeiro, to the 3D printing research center at the Pontifical Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro (PUC-RJ); in Rio Grande do Sul, to the Scientific and Technological Park (Tecnopuc) of PUC-RS and the Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul (UFRGS), coordinated by the group Brothers in Arms; in São Paulo, to 3D Criar and Inkubetech, which support the Hígia Project.
In addition to donating raw materials, Braskem's teams specializing in 3D printing also are supporting remotely the research centers on how to use this new raw material for the additive printing of parts. "Although 3D printing is not new in Brazil, some technologies are still in development and polypropylene filament is still little known in the industry. Braskem also is contributing to the development of new technologies and providing technical support to advance this segment in Brazil," explained Fabio Lamon, head of Additive Manufacturing Innovation and Technology at Braskem.
The polypropylene filaments for 3D printing donated are produced by Braskem and partner companies in the state of Rio Grande do Sul. According to the company, the donation not only helps to combat the novel coronavirus, but also is an opportunity to foster the development of the additive manufacturing industry in Brazil while also reinforcing the importance of the plastics chain in sectors such as healthcare.
"Right now we are supplying hundreds of Brazilian companies with inputs to make medical products, such as surgical mask, syringes, IV bags and protective equipment for doctors and nurses. Additive manufacturing is contributing with technology to the fabrication of items essential to combatting the pandemic together and collaboratively," said Lamon.
Braskem team members are making components for face shields
At Braskem, the examples of solidarity in the fight against covid-19 goes beyond the partnerships the company has formed. Workers Gabrielly Farias and Leonardo Oliveira, from the industrial unit PVC 2 AL, in Maceió, Alagoas, already have printed headbands for nearly 200 face shields for healthcare professionals in the region. They are part of the project 3D Saves, which is a network of volunteers engaged in making equipment for use in hospitals in the state and municipal networks in Alagoas.
Leonardo Oliveira says he is really pleased to be able to contribute to society and to people who need help. "I discovered the campaign on social networks and was thrilled to participate, knowing that I'm helping to make a difference. We used an instrument to which few people have access, especially here in our state, so being able to help is priceless."
Gabrielly Oliveira remembers that 3D printing was acquired for the purpose of individual use: "We never imagined that one day we would be doing this, but putting aside your personal fears to contribute to a community effort is more gratifying than anything else."
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