Q&A: Ahmed Amir, Honda of Canada Mfg.
by Alanna Fairey, Associate Editor
The automaker recently started manufacturing face shields to help combat COVID-19. Amir talks about that process
TORONTO – Honda of Canada Mfg. (HCM) recently announced a partnership with Barrie, Ont.-based Georgian College and its students to source materials and 3D print face shields for front line healthcare workers.
The auto manufacturer’s Alliston, Ont. site – one of five Honda facilities in North America sanctioned to help make equipment for doctors and nurses – will be deploying four multiple-duty 3D printers to make the protective gear.
Ahmed Amir, product engineer of the quality division at HCM, talked about the initiative in more detail with Canadian Manufacturing.
Canadian Manufacturing: How did this initiative come together?
Ahmed Amir: An article went viral of a few engineers in Italy that used their 3D printers to create ventilator valves and PPE. I saw this earlier on during the pandemic and shared this information with the leader of the printing team in my department. This led to brainstorming what we could print to help our local front line workers. It turns out there’s a whole 3D Printing community online that is sharing ideas and designs of how to help out during these trying times.
CM: How did the partnerships with Georgian College come to be?
AA: We have an ongoing partnership with the students at Georgian College. In this particular instance, we have been working with them to source materials for the visor. My colleague Terry Grasby has been working to secure clear visor materials from a company located in Mississauga, which are then shipped to Georgian College. From there, the college uses its onsite laser cutter to cut and shape the visor pieces before they are delivered to our plant for final assembly.
CM: What else is involved in the production process?
AA: Honda Canada Mfg. 3D printers are used to print the holder for the visor, Georgian College’s laser cutter is used to cut visor materials and everything is assembled at our plant. Since manufacturing of vehicles has been put on hold, we decided to put them (3D printers) to use, to help support our communities and frontline workers with Canadian made PPE. Even once we resume (vehicle) production, the 3D printers can be used to make parts for the shields overnight.
CM: Is HCM using its 3D printers to manufacture other pieces of equipment for frontline workers?
AA: Currently the 3D printers are also being used to print ear savers, a small plastic attachment that improves the fit of a surgical or N95 mask and helps prevent chafing, or potential sores, making masks more comfortable for long-term wear. We have the ability to print up to 400 ear savers a day.
CM: Where will donations be distributed?
AA: To date, approximately 250 shields have been delivered to local hospitals and retirement homes, including: Stevenson Memorial Hospital, Matthews House Hospice, My Sister’s Place and Trillium Health Partners (all three hospitals). Our team has printed over 500 pieces to date, and intends to produce more in the upcoming weeks.