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The Malaysia Automotive, Robotics and IoT Institute (MARii), together with a local company will start production of face shields and intubation boxes for the medical frontliners facing the Covid-19 pandemic.

The protection equipment will be produced using the laser cutting process, a process to cut, weld and mark plastic through the application of pinpoint, accurate application of heat to plastic sheets to the desired shape. A laser beam is guided by the machine through a path based on the design created via CAD software.

The process allows for faster and efficient production without the need for additional tooling, and can use easily sourced materials (given the restrictions placed on the export/import sector) such as acrylic and perspex.

“In order to ensure that PPE is readily-available despite shutdown of many manufacturers and raw material limitations, the deployment of technologies to rapidly manufacture PPE are crucial. MARii’s technology network has opened up opportunities for quick action to be taken for the PPE supply issue, and we hope more solutions can be developed to address other issues surrounding the pandemic,” said Datuk Madani Sahari, CEO of MARii.

The usage of laser cutting machines requires minimal operational supervision, which is good in the times of social distancing. It also allows for instant redesign and modification of products to suit specific needs, saving time through the elimination of tooling mods common in injection moulding.

“These benefits make laser cutting a highly viable process in situations such as Covid-19, where single use products face a huge spike in demand,” Madani said, adding that about 1,000 face shields and 50 intubation boxes can be produced per day.