Engineers from Jaguar Land Rover, UK’s largest automotive manufacturer, are working on developing the next generation of protective gear for its workers – a 3D printed glove. This lightweight 3D printed glove could help better protect employees from the threat of a musculoskeletal disorder.
The 3D printed glove is for workers operating mostly on the production lines. Mostly for those required to fit clips or fasteners into the chassis during assembly of Jaguar and Land Rover’s luxury vehicles.
According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), 2013 report, the Musculoskeletal disorders among workers, which include more than 100 different types of conditions, make up around 30 percent of all workplace injuries that result in time off and they account for a third of the money paid in compensation to employees. According to another report published by BBC News, musculoskeletal disorders affect an estimated 10% of the global population, rising to as much as 40% in certain industries.
Speaking about the new research project, Chris Noble, the Additive Manufacturing Strategic Engineer for Jaguar Land Rover, said, “The health and well-being of our workforce remain our priority across all factories and facilities. “Technologies like the 3D-printed glove allow us to use the world-leading expertise and equipment we have in-house, in this case HP Multi Jet Fusion technology, to protect the hands of our makers, developing equipment that will make Jaguar Land Rover a great place to work, now and in the future.”
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JLR’s Engineers at Gaydon site, which is also known for the largest 3D printing facility in the UK, identified the opportunity to use the company’s in-house advanced manufacturing expertise to design and 3D print a lattice-style structure which would provide support to reduce muscle fatigue, but also be flexible and comfortable enough to wear during an eight-hour shift.
The engineers modelled the glove in different densities using a variety of materials for testing by designing it in a computer-aided design (CAD) software.
After multiple iterations and feedbacks from trials, the team is now advancing to build the second-generation prototype. The 3D printed glove will incorporate a foam pad using impact additive D30 – a polymer material which absorbs impacts when placed under pressure. This will make the glove suitable for those who fit parts, such as door casings, using the palm of the hand.
In the short term, the gloves will support workers across Jaguar Land Rover’s facilities, helping to protect against musculoskeletal disorders. These form part of a wider future plan to deploy a range of technologies to assist those with muscle weakness or patients who suffer from physical or neurological disorders – helping employees return to work.
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