The team of Australians who design heavy duty accessories for the Toyota HiLux ute are now helping to make medical equipment to assist health authorities in the battle against the coronavirus.
While local manufacturing of the Toyota Camry came to an end in 2017, the Japanese car maker retained a Melbourne-based design and engineering team to develop accessories for the Toyota HiLux and other off-road vehicles.
The same facility that developed the heavy duty hardware for Toyota HiLux Rugged X (pictured above and below) and Rogue editions – as well as bullbars and other accessories – is using its half-a-dozen in-house 3D printers to help make medical face masks.
The 3D printers can carve out of solid pieces of plastic new components much quicker than normal manufacturing procedures, though the finished products tend to last months as an interim measure, rather than years.
Toyota Australia, vice president, sales and marketing, Sean Hanley, told CarAdvice: “Our product planning team has designed a medical facemark that we can 3D print. We are beginning talks with the government taskforce to see how we may be able to assist. Because 3D printing can be shared quite broadly, it depends how many (other devices) are out there to get the job done.”
Toyota Australia joins Walkinshaw Automotive Group (the parent company of Holden Special Vehicles) and the Erebus V8 Supercar team among local automotive suppliers and niche manufacturers who have offered use of their 3D printers to expedite the manufacture of temporary breathing apparatus and medical masks.
Ford, which has approximately 1500 engineers and designers still working in Australia, says it has also been in contact with the federal and Victorian governments “to offer our help and the expertise of our team to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic”.
As this article was published, it was unclear if any Australian states or the federal government have taken up the offer of assistance from outside suppliers to use 3D equipment to manufacture specialist short-term equipment.