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049: From University to Medical Supplies Manufacturer

Posted By Digital Enterprise Society, Wednesday, April 22, 2020
Updated: Monday, April 20, 2020

049: From University to Medical Supplies Manufacturer



On today’s episode, Craig and Thom welcome Nate Hartman, department head for computer graphics at Purdue University and co-director of the Indiana Manufacturing Competitiveness Center to discuss industry updates during the COVID-19 pandemic.  Many of us are looking for ways to help during this pandemic, and this episode offers an inspiring look at how one university is taking on the challenge of medical equipment shortages. Purdue University has transitioned several of its manufacturing research labs to manufacturing centers in a matter of two weeks and is now manufacturing personal protective equipment including face shields, gowns, and prototype face masks.  Nate shares both the motivation behind the change and the lessons that the manufacturing industry is learning in this unprecedented time of COVID-19. 

On today’s podcast, you will learn:

How the manufacturing industry is battling the pandemic

  • Colleges at Purdue University with the ability to design and manufacture needed medical supplies have been doing so for over a month

  • Production includes both hard and soft PPE (personal protective equipment), including ventilator components, face shields, face masks, and hospital gowns

  • One university alone is producing 1,000 face shields, 1,000 ventilator components, 500 body gowns every day

Lessons learned from tackling this challenge

  • Collaboration between diverse academic units  and businesses are greater than ever 

  • Tackling a common challenge brings people together in a way that no other situation can

  • Effective product lifecycle management is more important than ever

  • The lack of capacity in the medical supply chains hows how critical a supply network is

  • It is essential that we continue to design and manufacture within the United States

  • Companies who have the expertise and capacity to help need to do so now

Industry growth that will come as a result of COVID-19

  • Manufacturing companies and their supply networks needs to learn from the countries that were hit earlier or to a lesser extreme than the United States

  • Collaboration and communication will increase as we continue to problem solve together

  • Measures of success are shifting away from financial success to greater collaboration and preparedness in any circumstance

Do you have an example of extraordinary efforts during these unprecedented times?  We would love to hear your story and possibly interview you for an upcoming episode.  Please reach out to us at


Nathan Hartman is the Dauch Family Professor of Advanced Manufacturing and Department Head of the Department of Computer Graphics Technology at Purdue University, and Director of the Purdue University Digital Enterprise Center. Professor Hartman is also Co-Executive Director of the Indiana Manufacturing Competitiveness Center (IN-MaC). In 2011, Professor Hartman was designated a University Faculty Scholar. Professor Hartman’s research areas focus on the process and methodology for creating model-based definitions; the use of the model-based definition in the product lifecycle; developing the model-based enterprise; geometry automation; and data standards, interoperability, and re-use; and digital transformation of the manufacturing enterprise.

As an active leader of industry research and engagement in the Polytechnic Institute, Professor Hartman is currently serving as the Purdue principal investigator for the MxD Institute (formerly DMDII), and serves as a subject matter expert in PLM and digital transformation for the U.S. Air Force, U.S. Navy, and several corporations. Prior to his tenure at Purdue University, Professor Hartman worked for Fairfield Manufacturing, Caterpillar, and Rand Worldwide. He holds an BS in Technical Graphics and an MS in Industrial Technology form Purdue University, and a Doctorate in Technology Education (with emphasis in cognitive psychology and training and development) from North Carolina State University.

Tags:  Covid-19  Manufacturing  PLM  PPE 

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