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NEWS | April 15, 2020

NAWCAD Lakehurst 3D printing face shields for USNS Comfort

By Allison Murawski NAWCAD Public Affairs

Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division (NAWCAD) Lakehurst is supplying 500 face shields to the USNS Comfort stationed in New York City to help the fight against COVID-19.

USNS Comfort requested additional face shields for its personnel while they relieve pressure on New York area hospitals.

The NAWCAD Lakehurst team worked through the weekend to manufacture and deliver the first run of 160 face shields. The team used its additive manufacturing process, which builds a 3D object from a computer-aided design model.

“The battle against COVID-19 is a team effort, and I can't thank our team enough for their hard work and dedication to getting the USNS Comfort the equipment they need for this fight,” said Kathleen Donnelly, NAWCAD Lakehurst executive director. “We are in this together, and will keep striving for solutions in providing PPE [Personal Protective Equipment] to our local community.”

The team estimates all 500 face shields will be delivered by end of the week.

NAWCAD Lakehurst expanded its metal-based AM facility with new machines to print PPE after seeing the need for it grow during the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic, said Kyle Cobb, NAWCAD Lakehurst AM technology lead.

The team acquired 12 LulzBot TAZ Workhorses and a C02 laser cutter to enable a higher rate production of face shield material, Cobb said.

The NAWCAD Lakehurst advanced manufacturing / prototype engineering team worked with the Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) AM team to ensure that all shields produced are high quality and meet requirements.

NAWCAD Lakehurst is also working on designs for ventilators and respirators, and producing PPE via traditional manufacturing methods.

“It has been an extremely rewarding experience to leverage our industrial capabilities to respond to this global health crisis,” Cobb said. “I personally have many family members and friends who are military personnel, healthcare workers and first responders who are on the front line so I realize how important this effort is.”

NAWCAD Lakehurst’s Digital Engineering Division is setting up a remote monitoring system so AM team members can monitor the printing process via webcam from the safety of their homes.

This will help the team complete the mission while maximizing their ability to social distance.

Cobb says the remote monitoring solution will pay dividends beyond this effort as it will allow the team to monitor long metal builds and CT scans, as part of its mission to use metal-based AM to create and sustain naval aviation parts.

The Department of Defense, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the Food and Drug Administration alongside the medical community are working to coordinate the production (via 3D printing and standard manufacturing) of medical supplies in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

AM efforts are being replicated across NAVAIR sites, and the command is standing up a website to assist in fulfilling critical supply needs that local and private partners across the nation can use once coordination with FEMA is initiated.

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