How does manufacturing work? How do you retool a factory to produce respirators?

Rating - 100%
2   0   0
Joined
Jun 10, 2014
Messages
782
Likes
650
Location
North Attleboro
I know we did this back in WWII but back then we retooled factories who were manufacturing one kind of vehicle to manufacturing another. I kind of get that. But today companies are retooling any manner of factories from manufacturing widget x to producing respirators. How does that work? What needs to happen in a factory to go from making something like pillows or pickup trucks to making respirators. I can't wrap my head around this. Is it as complicated and expensive as it seems or is is easier than it sounds?
 

Machines

NES Member
Rating - 100%
66   0   1
Joined
Aug 8, 2010
Messages
1,768
Likes
623
Location
North Shore
It went a lot further than that in WW2. You as a hobbiest could put in a bid to make xxxx number of whatevers in your home shop.
 

Spanz

NES Member
Rating - 100%
1   0   0
Joined
Feb 25, 2009
Messages
33,132
Likes
19,870
well, like in tesla's case, they make a fan system in their cars as part of the heater/airconditioner. So it already has filters, fan, motor, ducts, microcontroller, etc.

SO....to turn that into a ventilator...you just reshape the filter for something bigger, add some ports for the flexible tubes you need, maybe add a 115V power source for the motor, reprogram the microcontroller...and you have a poor mans ventilator. Does it have all the whizbang things on it? No. Will it pump air into a sick person's lungs without bursting them? YES!!!
 

greencobra

NES Member
Rating - 100%
26   0   0
Joined
Jul 2, 2011
Messages
17,672
Likes
10,181
You as a hobbiest could put in a bid to make xxxx number of whatevers in your home shop.
yep, there's apparently a face book vid of some woman in brazil making masks, and pounding them out, sewing a piece of old sock between 2 pieces of bounty paper towels and adding an elastic band. i don't do face book so haven't seen it.
 

JJ4

NES Member
Rating - 100%
7   0   0
Joined
Jan 15, 2013
Messages
2,965
Likes
1,468
Location
South Central MA
Tune in to How Its Made on the science channel.

Or watch some AvE on youtube and you'll quicky learn about injection molding and PA-6 glass fiber reinforced plastics!

Most shit is plastic injection molded, a few control circuits, and an electric motor.
 
Last edited:

NickLeduc

NES Member
Rating - 100%
64   0   0
Joined
May 12, 2013
Messages
1,508
Likes
1,719
Location
Auburn, MA
If this was a long term problem (shortage of masks) then as a manufacturer, I would be weighting in on my options to retool our line to make some masks.
But this isn't like WW2. Retooling of factories for WW2 was a minor swap over. Business knew the $ was backing large govt contracts and could justify swapping their products over. Another layer to that decision would be: what are you normally producing? Will the sales of your normal product drop due to the event (WW2/Covid-19).
 

Varmint

NES Member
Rating - 100%
9   0   0
Joined
Jul 5, 2014
Messages
14,222
Likes
6,223
Location
North Shore, MA
I don't work in manufacturing but do install equipment. It normally takes me 3-4 weeks by myself to install a system. But if I worked 12 hrs days and had a couple guys to help we could shorten it to a week. I'm sure the machines needed to make masks are in stock and could be rapidly installed in a factory probably in a few days.
 

Uzi2

NES Member
Rating - 100%
4   0   0
Joined
Sep 5, 2017
Messages
5,948
Likes
7,477
I know we did this back in WWII but back then we retooled factories who were manufacturing one kind of vehicle to manufacturing another. I kind of get that. But today companies are retooling any manner of factories from manufacturing widget x to producing respirators. How does that work? What needs to happen in a factory to go from making something like pillows or pickup trucks to making respirators. I can't wrap my head around this. Is it as complicated and expensive as it seems or is is easier than it sounds?
It depends on what any specific company makes now and what the design and specs are for the needed product.

If there are similar types of systems that cross between the two products, transition can be fairly easy.

Lots of industries make there own specialized production machinery......they have the tools and processes to build things from scratch.
If someone hands them a design and prints ( computer modeling ) then they just put their people on it and build it. As that goes on, sourcing of needed materials is also in progress.....they need materials to set up and calibrate the machines they build.
 

appraiser

NES Member
Rating - 100%
16   0   0
Joined
Mar 14, 2008
Messages
9,899
Likes
3,833
well you need plastics that are fungal resistant, then you need a skilled mold maker ( a trade that is almost extinct) to do the molds for the injection molding machine that will shoot the plastic parts, oh the injection molding machines are all over in China ( in my college years I did a lot of mold design and worked at several injection molding companies) ... then you need the raw material (plastic pellets) mold release agent, someone who knows how to mix the plastic and release agent, the mold techs to install the mold and set up the machine for the right shot size, heater zone temps, etc... and you need people who know how to run the machines... and a water supply to cool the molds... Then you need an extruder line to make the hoses.... and a finishing department to ultrasonically weld the brass inserts in so you can screw parts to the plastic housings...

It is nice to think we can repurpose manufacturing lines for the war effort, but we have sold our soul to the Devil by exporting the machinery, raw materials, knowledge of how to run the machines etc overseas because we have been told for the last 30 years we are going to transition to a service economy and al those manufacturing jobs are gone and we are now a high tech society.
 

TJRaccoon

NES Member
Rating - 100%
4   0   0
Joined
Feb 8, 2015
Messages
213
Likes
171
Location
Eastern Mass
Let me make a few wild guesses here. Since it is a medical device it will need to meet the requirements of 21 CFR 820 & ISO 13485. Product and process validation, min of 3 production lots. Then probably some testing such as Biocompatability, pyrogen and bioburden testing to prove it will not outgass and kill the patient, carry germs/bacteria/viruses etc. Creation of Directions for use (DFUs), packaging and shipping validations. Aside for working for Sig Sauer, Robotics and the defense industry.......I spent quite a bit of time in Medical Devices. It might be a bit more complex than it appears to change over from making computer fans to ventilators, unless the FDA makes a huge get out of Jail card and exempts them from lawsuits. Providing that the patent owner releases design for others to fabricate. If it uses software......then you have another set hoops to jump. Hope that answer the question. This is a massive hill to climb quickly. I have done quick Qualification and Validation efforts in 18 months, while doing the day job. It can be done faster for sure, but it will take mucho money and resources. Probably makes sense right now to invest that time and money with the crisis we are facing. Well I'm off to tipping trash cans....trash night!
 

Uzi2

NES Member
Rating - 100%
4   0   0
Joined
Sep 5, 2017
Messages
5,948
Likes
7,477
Let me make a few wild guesses here. Since it is a medical device it will need to meet the requirements of 21 CFR 820 & ISO 13485. Product and process validation, min of 3 production lots. Then probably some testing such as Biocompatability, pyrogen and bioburden testing to prove it will not outgass and kill the patient, carry germs/bacteria/viruses etc. Creation of Directions for use (DFUs), packaging and shipping validations. Aside for working for Sig Sauer, Robotics and the defense industry.......I spent quite a bit of time in Medical Devices. It might be a bit more complex than it appears to change over from making computer fans to ventilators, unless the FDA makes a huge get out of Jail card and exempts them from lawsuits. Providing that the patent owner releases design for others to fabricate. If it uses software......then you have another set hoops to jump. Hope that answer the question. This is a massive hill to climb quickly. I have done quick Qualification and Validation efforts in 18 months, while doing the day job. It can be done faster for sure, but it will take mucho money and resources. Probably makes sense right now to invest that time and money with the crisis we are facing. Well I'm off to tipping trash cans....trash night!
All the bullshit regs have been waived.......they need stuff now.
 
Rating - 100%
2   0   0
Joined
Jun 10, 2014
Messages
782
Likes
650
Location
North Attleboro
Let me make a few wild guesses here. Since it is a medical device it will need to meet the requirements of 21 CFR 820 & ISO 13485. Product and process validation, min of 3 production lots. Then probably some testing such as Biocompatability, pyrogen and bioburden testing to prove it will not outgass and kill the patient, carry germs/bacteria/viruses etc. Creation of Directions for use (DFUs), packaging and shipping validations. Aside for working for Sig Sauer, Robotics and the defense industry.......I spent quite a bit of time in Medical Devices. It might be a bit more complex than it appears to change over from making computer fans to ventilators, unless the FDA makes a huge get out of Jail card and exempts them from lawsuits. Providing that the patent owner releases design for others to fabricate. If it uses software......then you have another set hoops to jump. Hope that answer the question. This is a massive hill to climb quickly. I have done quick Qualification and Validation efforts in 18 months, while doing the day job. It can be done faster for sure, but it will take mucho money and resources. Probably makes sense right now to invest that time and money with the crisis we are facing. Well I'm off to tipping trash cans....trash night!
Regarding the bolded section above, what is the likelyhood of any of this being done in the current environment?
 

appraiser

NES Member
Rating - 100%
16   0   0
Joined
Mar 14, 2008
Messages
9,899
Likes
3,833
the government can suspend the rules by executive order, but as a manufacturer under these conditions I would want full blanket immunity for all product liability lawsuits in perpetuity by way of an act of congress
 

Jason m

NES Member
Rating - 100%
19   0   0
Joined
Dec 24, 2010
Messages
1,927
Likes
1,179
Location
Central Mass
You need to make people to run the specialized Eqp, yes you can train them but from what I herd it takes years to get it right.

I am welder by trade so I know nothing of medical training, but this is what I have read in the last few weeks.
 

JJ4

NES Member
Rating - 100%
7   0   0
Joined
Jan 15, 2013
Messages
2,965
Likes
1,468
Location
South Central MA
Let me make a few wild guesses here. Since it is a medical device it will need to meet the requirements of 21 CFR 820 & ISO 13485. Product and process validation, min of 3 production lots. Then probably some testing such as Biocompatability, pyrogen and bioburden testing to prove it will not outgass and kill the patient, carry germs/bacteria/viruses etc. Creation of Directions for use (DFUs), packaging and shipping validations. Aside for working for Sig Sauer, Robotics and the defense industry.......I spent quite a bit of time in Medical Devices. It might be a bit more complex than it appears to change over from making computer fans to ventilators, unless the FDA makes a huge get out of Jail card and exempts them from lawsuits. Providing that the patent owner releases design for others to fabricate. If it uses software......then you have another set hoops to jump. Hope that answer the question. This is a massive hill to climb quickly. I have done quick Qualification and Validation efforts in 18 months, while doing the day job. It can be done faster for sure, but it will take mucho money and resources. Probably makes sense right now to invest that time and money with the crisis we are facing. Well I'm off to tipping trash cans....trash night!
Can't existing molds be duplicated from masters and then sent or shared to other Injection molding companies with compatible machinery?
 

Asaltweapon

NES Member
Rating - 100%
46   0   0
Joined
Dec 21, 2008
Messages
14,041
Likes
7,095
Location
Northern Mass
In the old days it took many many hours to create a die set. I learned my skills from these old timers. Never liked the CNC stuff so stayed in prototype and short run stuff. CNC machines were production only back then.
Today some zit faced kid sends down a program directly into a CNC machining center not ever setting foot in a machine shop or even knowing how to deburr a part.

Progress.
 

TJRaccoon

NES Member
Rating - 100%
4   0   0
Joined
Feb 8, 2015
Messages
213
Likes
171
Location
Eastern Mass
Regarding the bolded section above, what is the likelyhood of any of this being done in the current environment?
All the bullshit regs have been waived.......they need stuff now.
If they have waived all Federal and Industry Regulations, that news to me. I left Med Device a few years ago. Can you cite those regulation have been waived. I would like to see that!

Appraiser comments about mold makers are spot on also. I was thinking I would do 3d printing for the hard to find valves, heard the company who owned the patent got(or wanted) a stop order for the guys in Italy who were making them.
 
Last edited:
Rating - 100%
1   0   0
Joined
Jun 9, 2008
Messages
11,118
Likes
3,519
I know we did this back in WWII but back then we retooled factories who were manufacturing one kind of vehicle to manufacturing another. I kind of get that. But today companies are retooling any manner of factories from manufacturing widget x to producing respirators. How does that work? What needs to happen in a factory to go from making something like pillows or pickup trucks to making respirators. I can't wrap my head around this. Is it as complicated and expensive as it seems or is is easier than it sounds?
It would depend on what the factory normally makes to begin with. If you're going from making molded plastic product A to molded plastic product B, it could be as simple as putting new molds on the production line. Going from making one product to making a product out of a completely different material, using your example of the factory making pillows and converting it to producing plastic masks, it's probably a much more complex process requiring new machines. I don't know how expensive it is, but I'd venture a guess that the less similar the original product was from the new product, the more expensive and less efficient it is to retool/retrofit the factory to make the new product.
 

appraiser

NES Member
Rating - 100%
16   0   0
Joined
Mar 14, 2008
Messages
9,899
Likes
3,833
and it isn't only mold makers, which is a machinist of super human ability, it is the machinery and the blanks to make the molds , assuming the designs are already done.

I designed molds and plates for swizzle sticks and the McDonalds coffee stirrers back when they were a spoon you could do coke with...

I also did extruder lines for straw manufacturing.

Before I spent 6 years building windmills, I worked at a plastics company as a Q.A. Engineer and we were making big parts... Burger Kings cash registers, cabinets for IBM printers... the ones that used that wide green paper.... 200 ounce shot size.

you have no idea how complicated and complex the molds for those old model car kits were..... multiply that by 10
 

Asaltweapon

NES Member
Rating - 100%
46   0   0
Joined
Dec 21, 2008
Messages
14,041
Likes
7,095
Location
Northern Mass
and it isn't only mold makers, which is a machinist of super human ability, it is the machinery and the blanks to make the molds , assuming the designs are already done.

I designed molds and plates for swizzle sticks and the McDonalds coffee stirrers back when they were a spoon you could do coke with...

I also did extruder lines for straw manufacturing.

Before I spent 6 years building windmills, I worked at a plastics company as a Q.A. Engineer and we were making big parts... Burger Kings cash registers, cabinets for IBM printers... the ones that used that wide green paper.... 200 ounce shot size.

you have no idea how complicated and complex the molds for those old model car kits were..... multiply that by 10
Mold making back then was a craft all by itself. Another tough one was microwave machining for military guidance and communication systems and that is what I started out doing before getting into small job shops. Some microwave work and odd ball stuff for the M1A1 tank, Trident submarine periscope stuff, lots of optic work for satellites. Worked on machining parts for robots and built some production machines.

My brother is a director of manufacturing who specializes in mold making. He cut his teeth at Hitchner Manufacturing then recently moved into injection molding for medical devices.

Got sick of it and started driving a truck. My parents were devastated when I left the trade saying what a waste of talent.
 
Rating - 100%
3   0   0
Joined
May 31, 2009
Messages
8,995
Likes
4,968
Location
Braintree, MA

appraiser

NES Member
Rating - 100%
16   0   0
Joined
Mar 14, 2008
Messages
9,899
Likes
3,833
the other thing is all the electrics. switches, sensors, motors, etc will have to be explosion proof because there is probably oxygen involved.. so the plastics have to be anti bacterial and anti static.
 
Rating - 0%
0   0   0
Joined
Feb 11, 2009
Messages
4,600
Likes
2,782
Location
Louisiana
Yeah, to switch from making one model of air conditioner condensers to another sometimes took all day. All they were doing is putting the old pieces back on the line to start another run. Retooling from making widgets to making medical grade stuff will take some time if done correctly (read: a safe product).
 

Uzi2

NES Member
Rating - 100%
4   0   0
Joined
Sep 5, 2017
Messages
5,948
Likes
7,477
If they have waived all Federal and Industry Regulations, that news to me. I left Med Device a few years ago. Can you cite those regulation have been waived. I would like to see that!

Appraiser comments about mold makers are spot on also. I was thinking I would do 3d printing for the hard to find valves, heard the company who owned the patent got(or wanted) a stop order for the guys in Italy who were making them.
I was listening to a radio broadcast with the White House Corona Virus team and they were talking about companies converting their manufacturing facilities to make ventilators and other medical equipment and they said that they have waived all the red tape normally involved.
This is basically an emergency wartime type contingency being taken here and it will be a tough row to hoe to win a suit for a non certified piece of equipment.
When " ditch medicine' is all you have, you use it to the best of your ability.
 

Asaltweapon

NES Member
Rating - 100%
46   0   0
Joined
Dec 21, 2008
Messages
14,041
Likes
7,095
Location
Northern Mass
I was listening to a radio broadcast with the White House Corona Virus team and they were talking about companies converting their manufacturing facilities to make ventilators and other medical equipment and they said that they have waived all the red tape normally involved.
This is basically an emergency wartime type contingency being taken here and it will be a tough row to hoe to win a suit for a non certified piece of equipment.
When " ditch medicine' is all you have, you use it to the best of your ability.
When over the top BS regulations get in the way you say FU!!!! Go sit on the porch.
 

mibro

NES Member
Rating - 100%
13   0   0
Joined
Mar 4, 2013
Messages
12,539
Likes
9,953
Location
Mass.
I know we did this back in WWII but back then we retooled factories who were manufacturing one kind of vehicle to manufacturing another. I kind of get that. But today companies are retooling any manner of factories from manufacturing widget x to producing respirators. How does that work? What needs to happen in a factory to go from making something like pillows or pickup trucks to making respirators. I can't wrap my head around this. Is it as complicated and expensive as it seems or is is easier than it sounds?
Edited for pessimism. I'm starting to think I should take a nap and wake up when this is all over.
 
Last edited:
Top Bottom