Protection through innovation has always been the driving force at BAE Systems, and we are proud to increase the safety of those on the front lines by contributing personal protective equipment (PPE) to many of the communities in the U.S. where we live and work.
3-D printing face shields
When it became clear that there was a critical shortage of face shields in hospitals across the United States, our additive manufacturing teams began exploring how to use in-house 3-D printing capabilities to make or procure frames for face shields. The effort quickly spread across the company as plenty of willing hands began revving up additional 3-D printing resources. Employees at several BAE Systems sites around the country are now printing, packaging, and delivering this vital equipment where it is truly needed.
“It is exciting to have countless employees across our enterprise saying, how can we help?',” said Heather Wickman, who heads the BAE Systems, Inc. Additive Manufacturing Global Council, which is helping to lead the effort. “What has resulted is an incredible opportunity to collaborate and engage our additive capabilities to support the medical community during this crisis. It's inspiring, and takes the mission of “We Protect Those Who Protect Us®" into a whole new realm."
The goal is to deliver more than 7,200 face shield frames, each with 10 replaceable shields. To date, the team has shipped more than 6,700 face shield frames to local healthcare organizations in New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Alabama, New York, Indiana, California, New Jersey, and Virginia.
“The flexibility of additive manufacturing means you can pretty much produce anything, from the complex to the mundane,” said Steve Diaz, manager of the Advanced Materials and Joining Technologies group at the company’s San Jose, California, site. “3-D printing removes the need for specialized tooling for each application. We can swap from making advanced components for vehicles to these face shields that have nothing to do with our industry, and we can make that turn on a dime.”
“This is an opportunity for us to give back to the community by using our capabilities,” Diaz added. “Not only because it’s the right thing to do, but it is giving employees a sense of value by contributing to the fight against the coronavirus and that is really helpful too.”
Tyvek suits rushed to New York
As New York emerged as the pandemic’s hotspot, the call went out for Tyvek coverall suits, known for their superior protection against a variety of biohazards. BAE Systems was among those companies who responded – putting our employees in motion to deliver more than 3,000 Tyvek suits to healthcare heroes courageously working there.
We also donated 500 Tyvek suits and 5,000 gloves to the fire department in Radford, Virginia, the location of one of our operations.
WellSpan Health, a health care provider in York, Pennsylvania, stepped up to help us figure out ways to make our manufacturing facility in the city safer for employees. BAE Systems later returned the favor by shipping the company six pallets of equipment, including masks, gloves, safety glasses, disposable gowns, toilet paper and hand sanitizer.
Looking for new ways to innovate
Innovation thrives at BAE Systems. Our people are highly motivated to put their talents to work on a daily basis for those in harm’s way. This makes it an ideal environment to search for ideas to aid in the pandemic response.
At the onset of the pandemic, the company’s Electronic Systems sector launched an Idea Campaign that received more than 100 submissions — ranging from additive manufacturing of personal protective equipment to process changes that increase the well-being of employees and visitors. Company leaders conducted a rolling-wave evaluation of these ideas and selected the best ones for funding.
“We considered it our duty to call on the company’s best and brightest minds to help in the fight against coronavirus,” said Steve Brown, program manager in the company’s FAST Labs™ research and development arm. “It was an honor to develop protection for our healthcare heroes who are working so hard on the front lines during this pandemic.”