Arburg: Projects to combat the spread of the coronavirus
Since 11 May 2020, Arburg produces injection moulded face masks from LSR (liquid silicone rubber) and PP (polypropylene) at its headquarters in Lossburg, Germany. About 3,500 of these multifunctional high-tech masks are expected to be produced daily under series production conditions. This is the second project the mechanical engineering company has launched to combat the spread of the coronavirus. In mid-April the company has started producing protective glasses on Allrounder injection moulding machines.
"We are involved in various aid initiatives and are also push internal company projects such as this face mask. The demand is enormous. We are receiving specific requests from hospitals and nursing homes from all over the region," says Gerhard Böhm, Arburg Managing Director Sales, regarding the current situation. "We developed the high-quality and sustainable masks made of flexible LSR and PP ourselves and additively manufactured the first prototypes with our Freeformers. The LSR component and mould simulation was carried out using the Sigmasoft software from Sigma Engineering. In a record time of only around five weeks, our partners Polar-Form and Foboha built the corresponding injection moulds for the LSR and PP components. This means that we can now start series production in Lossburg." The companies Ewikon (cold runner) and Männer (hot runner) were also involved in the implementation of the mould technology. Other partners were Barth Mechanik (gripper) and Packmat (packaging technology), the raw material for several 10,000 masks was sponsored by the chemical group Wacker and Borealis.
The flexible masks consist of a soft LSR mask that is put over the nose and mouth and a firm PP shield with eyelets for attaching elastic bands. In the middle there is a standardised connection with a hole (DIN EN ISO 5356-1:2004). The opening is sealed with a flow gate to protect against infection in everyday life, e.g. for professional meetings or shopping at the supermarket. This diverts the breathing air downwards and thus significantly reduces the risk of infection. In the next expansion stage, a filter housing can be fitted on the opening. Arburg intends to manufacture this component in cooperation with partners very soon. The companies involved in this project are Weber (mould), Günther (hot runner technology), Küfner (filter), Herrmann Ultraschall (welding technology) and Packmat (packaging technology).
According to Arburg, 15,000 of these masks can be produced per week in two-shift operation. The first contingents of face masks are being distributed to the company's own employees worldwide and to partners who have been significantly involved. In the next step, the district of Freudenstadt will take over the additional coordination and distribution to hospitals, care facilities and civil defence organisations.