Sustainability is one of the pillars Jaguar Land Rover is building its business on as the company transitions its vehicles from fossil fuels to hybrid and full-electric powertrains. JLR engineers work to reduce the company's carbon footprint wherever they can, from using environmentally friendly interior materials to bringing natural lighting into manufacturing plants.
So when Ben Wilson, Aram Kradjian and Emily Greenhalgh, who work in JLR's engineering research and additive manufacturing departments, stepped up in early April to help the company design and produce plastic face shields, they added a novel feature: reusability.
JLR's shields can be taken apart and cleaned, reassembled and used again. Most other shields are designed to be used once and then discarded. If not recycled, those face shields could end up in landfills. The reusable JLR shields circumvent that problem and prevent another: Because the shields can be reused many times, shortages are less likely.
The face shields, developed with input from the UK's National Health Service, were designed in about a week using JLR's rapid prototyping expertise and the company's 3D-printing equipment. The face shields evolved through several iterations before the final design emerged. They feature an adaptable and reusable strap that also can be removed and cleaned.
Initially, JLR only intended to supply hospitals, general practitioners and other front-line workers with the face shields. Demand has been so high that the company has scaled up production to as many as 14,000 per week, and JLR has offered to other companies for free the software to make the shields. JLR says requests for the software have come from the U.S., South Africa, Japan, Canada, India, Europe and elsewhere.
"We hope that by providing the files for download, many more companies will be inspired to use their 3D-printing facilities to print vital [personal protective equipment] for our key workers," said Wilson.
Plans call for production of the face shields to climb to as many as 70,000 per week, with most being made at JLR's Whitley product development and engineering center in England, the company says.
JLR also plans to distribute the face shields to each of its employees, some of whom must work in close proximity to one another on the production line. In late May, the first Range Rover built under new safety protocols at JLR's sprawling plant in Solihull, England, came off the line, assembled by some workers wearing the shields designed and made by their own company.