Defence has joined forces with a family-owned South Australian company to rapidly produce face shields for frontline healthcare workers.
CAPTION: Axiom Managing Director Jim Grose and Ben Barona from Defence Science and Technology Group examine an injection moulding die used to manufacture face-mask components. ADF photo.
In support of Defence Operation COVID-19 Assist, a Defence Science and Technology Group (DSTG) engineering team led by Ben Barona examined a series of existing open-source designs for personal protective equipment face masks by 3-D printing prototypes in-house at DST Edinburgh.
After settling on an evolved design, the team then collaborated with existing defence industry SME partner Axiom to begin mass-production of face shields for use by health workers in COVID-19 workplaces.
Axiom has partnered with DST Group for several years, through the Redwing and Silvershield personnel and vehicle electronic protection programs.
Axiom specialises in high- and low-volume plastic injection moulding of components across many industries.
Minister for Defence Linda Reynolds said this new partnership would ensure Australia sustained a sufficient supply of shields over the months ahead.
“This initiative will not only help boost the supply of face shields across the country, but also expand industry capability within Australia,” Minister Reynolds said.
“Initially, Axiom will produce around 1000 face shields per day, with this set to increase as the manufacturing process matures.
“The Australian-made shield is lightweight so it can be worn comfortably for long periods, made from materials which Australia has ready access to, and is cost-competitive to manufacture compared to imported masks.
“It provides sovereign manufacturing capability to the medical industry, and is another great example of Defence applying its ingenuity and unique engineering research skills.”
Minister for Industry, Science and Technology Karen Andrews said Axiom highlighted the incredible advanced manufacturing capability that exists in Australia.
“Many of the Aussie companies with contracts in defence are advanced manufacturers working at the cutting-edge and there are great cross-over opportunities that exist as a result of that,” Minister Andrews said.
“Whether it’s expanding into medical supplies as we’re seeing in this case or expanding into space or other precision manufacturing – our advanced manufacturers will help Australia come out the other side of this pandemic stronger than ever.”
As part of Defence’s support to the whole of government response to COVID-19, DST is also helping to increase domestic stocks of invasive ventilators.
Australian soldiers also provided support to Victorian manufacturer Med-Con to boost production of surgical face masks.