FRANKFURT: German carmaker Volkswagen said it was joining other manufacturers around the world to explore using 3D printing to make hospital ventilators to combat the coronavirus.
Governments are enlisting automakers including Ford, General Motors, Ferrari and Nissan to ramp up production of ventilators and other equipment to treat the fast-spreading disease.
In a statement, Volkswagen said it had assembled a task force, was testing materials and checking supply chains to see how it can use 3D printing to help manufacture hospital ventilators and other life-saving equipment.
“Medical equipment is a new field for us. But as soon as we understand the requirements, and receive a blueprint, we can get started,” Volkswagen said, adding that prototype components had been printed and its Skoda arm was included in the project.
A spokesman said the Wolfsburg-based company, which has more than 125 industrial 3D printers, was in close contact with governments and other authorities.
General Motors said it was working with Ventec Life Systems to enable the medical device maker to leverage the US automaker’s logistics and expertise to build more ventilators.
“We are working closely with Ventec to rapidly scale up production of their critically important respiratory products to support our country’s fight against the COVID-19 pandemic,” GM CEO Mary Barra said.
Volkswagen’s sports car brand Porsche also said it wanted to help in relief efforts. “We are collecting ideas about what we could do in terms of humanitarian help,” Chief Executive Oliver Blume said.
Munich-based carmaker BMW said it too was ready to help. “The production of components using 3D printing technology is a possibility,” it said.
Sweden’s carmaker Volvo urged all governments to take the crisis seriously and limit movements.
“I think for the economy, we need to do something drastic, rather then trying half-hearted measures that drag on forever,” Chief Executive Hakan Samuelsson said.
The auto industry’s chances of recovery depended on coordinated action, Samuelsson told Reuters.
“There is a big difference between countries. Some have curfews, with restaurants and schools closed. In other countries there are less drastic measures. I just think we need to synchronize that more.”