Mercedes-Benz South Africa (MBSA) will manufacture three-dimensional- (3D-) printed recyclable plastic face shields for use in the mass screening for Covid-19, and for use at clinics and hospitals.
In addition, and pending quality assurance regulatory approval, the local arm of the German auto manufacturer will also produce and supply continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) breathing-aid devices, which deliver oxygen to the lungs without the need for a ventilator, from its East London manufacturing plant for the Eastern Cape Department of Health.
CPAP breathing aid devices have been used extensively in hospitals in countries hardest hit by Covid-19 to assist patients with serious respiratory problems to breathe more easily, when oxygen through a face mask alone has proved insufficient.
CPAP devices are noninvasive breathing-aid devices that provide constant, steady pressure to keep the lungs expanded.
Reports from Italy indicate that about 50% of patients given CPAP devices have avoided the need for invasive mechanical ventilation.
MBSA’s East London plant reopened on May 4, under Alert Level 4 restrictions. The plant produces the C-Class sedan for the local and export markets.
Manufacturing Excellence “As a symbol of solidarity with the Eastern Cape provincial government and its people, MBSA saw the need to use its over 70 years of manufacturing excellence to produce medical equipment in the form of 3D-printed face shields for essential medical services personnel working on the frontlines of the Covid-19 pandemic in public hospitals,” says MBSA CEO and manufacturing director Andreas Engling.
“The CPAP devices will also assist coronavirus patients by keeping them out of intensive care with breathing support and reduce the burden on public health facilities based in the Eastern Cape.”
MBSA already explored the feasibility of developing CPAP devices for manufacture during the nonproduction Alert Level 5 period of the national lockdown.
With the company’s decision to go ahead with production, MBSA is now following the example of the Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team, based in the UK, by preparing its machinery, which, under normal circumstances, would produce automotive components, to develop breathing aids.
Pending regulatory approval from local medical licensing authorities, MBSA expects that it will be able to manufacture more than 1 000 face shields and CPAP devices a month.