CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The five 3D printers at NASCAR’s Research & Technology centre — two delivered in February and installed less than two weeks ago — are typically focused on composite parts and working on an updated stock car.
But when racing came to a stop March 13 amid the coronavirus pandemic, a handful of NASCAR engineers wondered if the printers could be used to address the shortage of personal protective equipment for health care workers. They contacted suppliers and came up with designs for face shields the printers could make. They met with Novant Health, which serves medical facilities in North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia.
Now the printers are running 18 hours a day with approximately eight engineers volunteering their time to oversee production from approximately 7 a.m. until midnight every day. The newest printer, about the size of an outdoor shed, can print three face shields every 2 1/2 hours.
“That’s the one we try to keep running almost nonstop,” Eric Jacuzzi, senior director of NASCAR’s aerodynamics and vehicle performance, told The Associated Press. “We have people that are actually having their teenage children help with cutting the clear facial part as part of their volunteer work at home, six of us running the machines, and more people reaching out to help.”
NASCAR is donating the face shields as part of the charitable community acts the series does every year. The sanctioning body has followed Ford, Chevrolet and Toyota — NASCAR’s three manufacturers — as companies from the automotive industry that have pivoted production to PPE during the global crisis.
Ford this week said beginning in April it will work with GE Healthcare to build air-pressured ventilators, with a target of manufacturing 50,000 units in the next 100 days from a Michigan components plant. Ford is also