Engineers at Jaguar Land Rover have designed a unique 3D-printed glove aimed at preventing musculoskeletal disorders

Engineers from Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) are working on the next generation of protective workplace clothing – a lightweight 3D-printed glove, which could help to better protect employees from the threat of a musculoskeletal disorder.

The glove has been designed for people working on the production line, for example those required to fit clips or fasteners into the chassis during assembly of Jaguar and Land Rover vehicles.

According to a statement issued by the company, musculoskeletal disorders – which include more than 100 different types of conditions – make up about 30 percent of all workplace injuries that result in time off, and account for a third of the money paid in compensation to employees.

The statement adds that studies have shown that musculoskeletal disorders affect an estimated 10 percent of the world’s population, rising to as much as 40 percent in certain industries.

Engineers at Jaguar Land Rover’s Gaydon site in England – home to one of the largest 3D-printing facilities in the United Kingdom – saw an opportunity to use JLR’s advanced manufacturing expertise to design and 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.

 

Using 3D computer-aided design (CAD) software, the team modelled blueprints using a variety of materials for testing. Following feedback from trials, the team is now working on a second-generation prototype. It will include a foam pad made using an impact additive called D30 – a polymer material that absorbs impacts when placed under pressure. This will make the glove suitable for those who fit parts, such as door casings, using the palms of their hands.

In the short term, the gloves will support workers across JLR’s facilities, helping to protect against musculoskeletal disorders. In the long term, they will form part of a wider plan to deploy a range of technologies aimed at assisting people with muscle weaknesses, or those who suffer from physical or neurological disorders.

Chris Noble, Additive Manufacturing Strategic Engineer for Jaguar Land Rover, said: “The health and well-being of our workforce remains 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 to protect the hands of our makers, and develop equipment that will make JLR a great place to work, now and in the future.”

The Jaguar Land Rover Additive Manufacturing Centre produces over 80 000 parts a year for a variety of applications, including functional prototyping, design mock-ups and manufacturing assembly aids and fixtures. The company will 3D print parts for production cars, with the Jaguar XE SV Project 8 being one of the first vehicles to use them.

The programme forms part of JLR’s Destination Zero vision; a project aimed at making societies safe and healthy, and the environment cleaner. Delivered through relentless innovation, the company’s focus is on achieving a future of zero emissions, zero accidents and zero congestion across all of its facilities, and through its products and services.

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