SOUTH AFRICA – Mercedes-Benz South Africa (MBSA), a car manufacturing giant, has announced a monthly manufacturing and distribution of 1 000 recyclable 3D printed face shields and Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) breathing devices at its East London plant. 

The East London plant is following the footsteps of the Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One team in the United Kingdom, which was the first to manufacture the PPEs. 

MBSA spokesperson Thato Mntambo said the breathing devices delivered oxygen to the lungs without the need for ventilators. She said the personal protective equipment would be delivered to nurses at hospitals and clinics which they can use during the screening and testing of patients. 

“The MBSA East London Manufacturing Plant reopened under Alert Level 4 restrictions, on 4 May 2020 in accordance to stringent occupational health and safety risk management systems and protocols and will use its capacity to manufacture face shields and CPAP devices,” Mntambo said.  

“The CPAP breathing aid devices have been used extensively in hospitals in countries hardest hit by Covid-19 to assist patients with serious respiratory problems to breathe more easily, when oxygen via a face mask alone has proven insufficient.” 

“It is anticipated that the CPAP devices provided by MBSA will also assist with reducing the burden on public health facilities based in the Eastern Cape, which is expected to experience a surge in coronavirus patients.” 

The CPAP devices are non-invasive breathing aid devices, which provide a constant, steady pressure to keep the lungs expanded. 

“As a symbol of solidarity with the Eastern Cape provincial government and its people, MBSA saw the need to use its over 70 years of manufacturing excellence to produce medical equipment in the form of 3D printed face shields for essential medical services personnel working on the front lines of the Covid-19 pandemic in public hospitals,” said CEO of MBSA and director of manufacturing Andreas Engling. 

“The CPAP devices announced today will also assist coronavirus patients by keeping them out of intensive care with breathing support and reduce the burden on public health facilities based in the Eastern Cape.” 

The idea by MBSA was explored during the non-production period of the lockdown. The manufacturing will kickstart as soon as MBSA gets regulatory approval from local medical licensing authorities.