Toyota Motor North America Inc. will start 3-D printing face shields on a mass scale early next week in an effort to help area hospitals get the equipment they need in response to COVID-19.
Toyota has already been assisting hospitals and first responders with donations, such as masks, safety glasses, shoe/boot covers, gloves, blankets and cotton swabs, but is seeking to do even more.
“Toyota’s core value has always been to contribute to society in meaningful ways beyond providing mobility for our customers,” said Ted Ogawa, incoming CEO of Toyota Motor North America. “With our plants idled and our dealers focused on servicing customers, we are eager to contribute our expertise and know-how in order to help quickly bring to market the medical supplies and equipment needed to combat the COVID crisis. Our message to the medical equipment community is we are here to help, please utilize our expertise.”
To that end, Toyota is seeking partners for filters in order to make COVID-19 masks. It also is working on an agreement with at least two companies to produce ventilators and respirators to help increase their capacity. And the Toyota Production System Support Center is helping to organize drive-through COVID-19 testing sites with area hospitals and communities.
Toyota announced on March 26 that it would extend its auto production shut down through April 17, resuming production of automobiles on April 20. However, its service parts depot and vehicle logistics centers will continue to operate.
The 3-D printed face shields the company will start producing next week will initially go to MD Anderson in Houston, UT Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas and other hospitals in Indiana, Kentucky and Michigan.
So far, Toyota Motor North America and its affiliates have donated $500,000 to the United Way to assist those in need with food, water, childcare and other emergency relief needs. And Toyota dealerships are also actively helping. For instance, Sand Mountain Toyota in Albertville, Alabama is one of many local businesses providing K-12 students with free lunches. Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, employees from the dealership are grilling and serving hundreds of hotdogs and hamburgers from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. All parents have to do is drive up and let the staff know how many they need.
“We are always looking for ways to positively impact our community and help those in need,” said Marshall Brooks, Sand Mountain Toyota service lane manager. “What we’re seeing with local schools and local businesses, as hard of a time as this is, there are a lot of people stepping up to take care of not just the kids, but everyone in need.”