Acushnet Cares: Answering the PPE Challenge

“How can we quickly produce a medical supply for the front line workers utilizing resources readily available to us?”

That was the question posed in early March by Bill Frye, Senior Vice President, Golf Ball Operations, to all the technical groups under his management.

The challenge was answered by the Advanced Engineering Department, led by Kevin Carando, Senior Director, Titleist Golf Ball Engineering and Technology. Three team members – Ian Coberly, John Thornton and Ajay Vora – went to work, considering new materials for use along with existing technology in an effort to create useful medical PPE.

Coberly, a Sr. Associate Mechanical Engineer who has been with the company for two years, already had been developing the use of 3D Printing for component prototyping, and immediately started searching for readily available prints for face shields and suitable materials to be used for this part.

Vora, Senior Manager Technical Projects, and Thornton, Senior Machine Design Specialist, contributed by working on the face shield holder design which improved part structural integrity. Vora and Thornton also provided input as to part layout on the printing surface to maximize parts per session.

Soon thereafter, ear relief straps were recognized as a need for healthcare workers who wore strapped masks for an extended period of time, which created chaffing behind the ears. Once again, Coberly obtained prints that were utilized in the 3D printing of that component. Christina Frangos, from our legal department, proved to be a valuable partner, providing guidance during this process.

“Once the ear relief straps started to become a need to Health Care providers,” said Carando, “Ian took the initiative to research different strap designs available and tried two different options. He handled all aspects of implementing and optimizing the 3D printing process to maximize ear relief straps printed per session.”

The 3D printing of the face shield holder and the ear relief strap are both taking place in the Advanced Engineering Department located at Titleist Ball Plant 3 in New Bedford. To date, over 250 face shields and 300 ear relief straps have been printed, assembled and donated to Brockton Hospital, Mass General Hospital, Warren Center (Skilled Nursing Rehabilitation Center), Mattapoisett Police and EMS and UMass-Dartmouth.

“Being able to leverage the technology of 3D printing for certain applications has been something I have been working on since the printer was brought into the group,” said Coberly. “As days turned into weeks, the need for alternative methods of producing PPE became very real. We were able to take these unfortunate circumstances and turn them into a great opportunity to help our local healthcare communities while also putting our printer into full production mode to showcase the potential that 3D printing holds. As an associate that has family members in the health care industry I am thankful that Acushnet Company has been able to help out healthcare providers in these trying times.”

Coberly, who spearheaded the 3D Printing initiative, continues to produce and assemble the face shields along with making improvements to the 3D printing process, increasing parts per printing session.

“The effects of the COVID-19 pandemic has touched all aspects of our business, and Acushnet’s ability to procure some types of PPE have been challenged,” said Carando, who credited Frye for the support he provided throughout the process. “As a result, in preparation for our company return-to-work requirements, the need for face shields has been identified. We now find ourselves 3D printing face shields in support of our own Golf Ball Operations facility needs.”

Thanks to the innovative ideas of the Advanced Engineering team, we will have them.