“We knew that COVID-19 had ravaged the supply of personal protective equipment (PPE) for front line medical workers,” said Jill Albertelli, senior vice president, Transformation and Strategy, and leader of the face shield production efforts for Pratt & Whitney, a business of Raytheon Technologies. “We also knew that our people and our machinery could adapt to print and assemble PPE. Getting involved wasn’t even a yes or no question. It was a question of when and how.”
Immediately following the commitment by Raytheon Technologies to supply PPE to those who needed it, the Pratt & Whitney team joined colleagues from Collins Aerospace, the Additive Manufacturing Center of Excellence and the Raytheon Technologies Research Center to develop a process and execute.
The process begins at one of the 85 additive machines located across 36 of the company’s locations. Of the 36 locations, 13 are Pratt & Whitney sites.
Depending on the size of the printers and the pieces, it can take upward of 20 hours to print parts. Many employees have dedicated their time to focus solely on these efforts.
Billy Hankins, who works in tool services at Pratt & Whitney’s site in Georgia, has not thought twice about changing his day-to-day operations.
“It is truly an awesome feeling knowing that our team can contribute to the safety of our first responders and medical personnel who are on the front line, fighting the COVID-19 pandemic,” he said.
Similarly, at the Additive Manufacturing Lab in East Hartford, Connecticut, the team is proud to use their skills to help. “The medical staff, emergency response workers and others working to keep us safe are risking their lives every day,” said Dean Sirois, one of four engineers on the lab’s team. “Using our skills with additive manufacturing is our way of doing our part to help keep them safe. Additive manufacturing is uniquely positioned to enable a quick response and we felt empowered to use it to make a difference.”
Teams have worked with agility and determination to address any challenges head-on. In West Palm Beach, Florida, David Barna and his colleague Cesar Astudillo, both senior engineers in Development Operations Test Systems Engineering, were using a smaller 3D printer and faced a small setback when they first began printing.
“The model of the headband piece was just one-sixteenth of an inch too big for the 3D printer build plate,” said Barna. “We modified the design for our printer, printing out several variations, making adjustments along the way and successfully printed final pieces that met the quality requirements for the final face shield while reducing print time.”
After parts are printed, they undergo a quality check and are then shipped to the Pratt & Whitney Hangar in East Hartford for assembly. Now, over 11,000 face shields have been assembled and shipped to those on the front line. The Raytheon Technologies commitment that was previously 10,000 face shields has since increased to 20,000.
“It’s amazing how ideas were turned into action at our printing sites,” Albertelli said. “Our employees are part of an initiative that’s helping to save lives.”
Pratt & Whitney is part of Raytheon Technologies, which is using its manufacturing capacity, and engineering, logistics and finance expertise, to carry out initiatives that serve our communities, deliver on our commitments to our customers and protect our employees during the COVID-19 pandemic.