GE Healthcare, which is ramping up ventilator production, is using 3-D printing both to make parts directly and to make molds for injection molding. However, the chief engineer for advanced manufacturing at Healthcare says that some of the 3D-printing companies he has been talking to are shut down due to government edicts that deemed their work nonessential.
It sounds like they will get around this barrier…“We have a map of all the companies that have excess capacity, and so we’ll divert whatever print work we need to whatever company has got the ability right now, on top of the equipment we have at GE”…but I expect that there is going to be a lot of this sort of thing. There is no way that local or state officials can understand the supply chain dependencies that exist between a seemingly-minor local business and a major national priority somewhere up a level or two (or more) in the product structure. In some cases, all it might take is a letter from the top-tier manufacturer certifying the importance of the work the supplier is doing, but in many cases I suspect that the only rapid solutions will require Federal involvement.