Toyota helps shield medicos in coronavirus fight

Australia’s best-selling automotive brand has weighed into the COVID-19 battle.

Japanese automotive giant Toyota is developing and manufacturing face shields in Australia to help protect members of the medical community from the virus.

Toyota has used its local advanced design, technology and production expertise to help create the face shields which were designed and prototyped by Toyota's Product Planning and Development (PP&D) team in Port Melbourne using Computer Aided Design (CAD).

A production line using high-precision CNC routers to cut the design has been established in the PP&D facility with the line capable of producing a face shield every minute.

The approved and tested face shields are supplied free of charge to medical staff in hospitals around Melbourne.

Toyota initially forecast materials and labour for about 2000 face shields to be produced with the goal of scaling up to significantly higher volumes with the help of local manufacturing partners and suppliers, a spokesperson said.

Toyota Australia Vice-President of Sales and Marketing Sean Hanley said the medical staff treating patients in hospitals were on the front line and their protection was imperative in the fight against the spread of COVID-19.

Toyota face shields

"Every day, these people are literally putting their lives on the line to deal with this situation and we at Toyota have the advanced technology, design and manufacturing expertise to rapidly develop and produce the essential protective supplies they need," Mr Hanley said.

"So that's what we have done through our PP&D facility in Port Melbourne, turning around a studio that normally designs and develops parts and components for vehicles, to one producing essential medical supplies.

"This is just one way we can help to support the community through these difficult times and be there for Australians in need."

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With its advanced prototyping technology, Toyota was able to rapidly turn the design into a product that can be produced quickly and in large quantities. 

In addition to producing the face shields, the team at Toyota is studying other products, including a hyperbaric hood that could potentially be rapidly developed, prototyped and manufactured locally to meet the needs of the medical community.

The project was initiated through a partnership with 3DEME (3D Emergency Medical Equipment), an organisation established to accurately identify the critical needs of hospitals in Victoria and coordinate the rapid design, prototyping, testing and manufacture of such equipment locally.