COVID-19: Deputy Director Smart Manufacturing Research Institute

A team from the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering (FKM), Universiti Teknologi MARA (UiTM) Shah Alam, Malaysia has taken a proactive measure to mass-produce face shields frame using a plastic injection moulding process following the high demand from hospitals and clinics. The demand has increased to more than 14,000 units in just one week after executing the project on  23rd March 2020. Initially, the team has coordinated 3D printing activities by job delegation at various residential locations, following the Movement Control Order (MCO) by the Malaysian Government.

There are a total of 13 locations around Klang Valley  with   23 units of 3D printers are distributed to the volunteers comprising of UiTM staff, mostly doing 3D printing jobs and some locations focused on design and optimization for the second stage by injection moulding.  Concerning the issue of 3D printing in producing mass volume of parts, the team started design, simulation analysis and fabrication of the mould by Computer-Aided Design/Computer-Aided Manufacturing (CAD/CAM) for injection moulding process. The faculty has one unit of medium industrial scale injection moulding of 120 tonne capacity, which has been used since 2007 for teaching, learning and research purposes. To produce the face shield frame, machining of the mould cavity is required by Computer Numerical Controlled (CNC) using the model adopted from 3D printing before it is assembled and installed on the moulding machine. Some modification was done to ensure the design suited the injection moulding, taking into account the availability of the mould and tooling components in the laboratory as well as the capability of the machine. During machining of the mould, the team encountered several challenges such as shortage of parts and unmatched mould parts. Thanks for the innovative thinking of the skilful technical staff and assistance of industrial partners in getting parts during the tough time of MCO, the mould was completely prepared within 3 days and assembled on the injection moulding machine.

Using plastic materials available in the laboratory, the first part was successfully injection moulded on 29th March 2020.  On the first day of mass production on 30th March a total of 800 pieces were successfully produced, followed by more than 1000 pieces in the next consecutive days.  To date, the team has delivered approximately 30,000 units of face shields within  17 days and distributed to nearly 100 hospitals, clinics, armies nationwide including 100 units flown to Sarawak Hospital.

Due to the awareness of the communities on rising demand of face shields from front liners, few institutions and industries, who have injection moulding machine have come together to show support and solidarity by producing the face shields frame at their premises to combat COVID 19. Some companies have contributed raw materials for institutions to run the injection moulding.  The team would like to thanks all volunteers especially lecturers, technical and administrative staff from the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering Main Campus, Shah Alam, FKM branches; Pulau Pinang, Pasir Gudang and Bukit Besi and UiTM partners; Mechanical Engineering Faculty Alumni Society (MEFAS), Makerlab and Kelantan Branch for the CSR Face Shield UiTM Project 2020. Not forgotten to the industrial partners; AA3D SHOP, GAIA PLAS BERHAD, PEBBLE 3D SDN BHD and 3D GENS SDN BHD for the continuous support. Also thanks to PETRONAS, HICOM TECK SEE, SECO TECHNOLOGY SDN BHD and INTAN TEKNIK (M) SDN BHD for the sponsorship of raw materials for the injection moulding.

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