Mike Lawson is a Senior Manager at Boeing Global Engagement. He is responsible for community investments and outreach for Boeing in Texas.
This Q&A is part of an ongoing series of DRC interviews with representatives from our member organizations about how they are facing the COVID-19 pandemic.
Q: Boeing’s 3D printed face shields solution is a partnership across various Boeing departments, hospitals, universities, and suppliers that seemed to come to fruition quickly. How did the project come about, and how long did design and production phases take before the product was ready for market?
A: Boeing employees across the company have been asking how they can help and have stepped up in response to this crisis by providing hundreds of ideas and solutions in response to COVID-19. Production for the face shields began at the beginning of April, and on April 10, we delivered our first shipment of face shields to FEMA.
Q: 3D printing for Boeing engineer customers is still taking place. Face shields are printed between other orders or after hours in the evening, and employees have volunteered for the extra shifts. How often will the 3D printed face shields be shipped, and how many can be produced for each shipment?
A: Our production goal is to produce thousands of face shields per week followed by subsequent production increases. Our initial shipment of 2,300 face shields was delivered to FEMA in Dallas to support health care professionals working to stop the spread of COVID-19.
Q: Currently, 12 Boeing additive manufacturing sites in the U.S. are participating in the production, assembly, and packaging of the 3D face shields. What other manufacturing sites/cities do you foresee reopening operations to contribute to the project?
A: Production is ongoing and sites have continued to support the effort even while operations were suspended in some locations. Additional sites will be added as additive manufacturing capability is identified. Boeing has also offered the use of our Dreamlifter, one of the largest cargo carriers in the world, to help transport critical and urgently needed supplies to health care professionals. We’re coordinating closely with government officials on how best to provide our support. To date, Boeing has donated tens of thousands of masks, gloves, and other equipment to hospitals in need. We’re also analyzing several other ways we can use our engineering, manufacturing, and logistics expertise to help the cause.