A UK-based team of engineers from Jaguar Land Rover are putting their skills to work by designing a lightweight 3D printed glove that can be worn by people working on the company’s production line. The glove—part of the team’s effort to create next-gen protective workplace gear—could help to prevent musculoskeletal disorders caused by production line duties.

Today, musculoskeletal disorders, including carpal tunnel, tendonitis and more, account for roughly 30% of all workplace injuries that result in time off (according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2013). Some estimates even suggest that nearly 10% of the global population have been or are affected by musculoskeletal disorders.

To combat the likeliness of these workplace injuries occurring, engineers at Jaguar Land Rover’s Gaydon site in the UK decided to develop a protective glove for the company’s workers.

Jaguar Land Rover 3D printed glove
The glove was printed from ULTRASINT, a new TPU material for HP’s Jet Fusion 5200 Series 3D printing solution

The glove leverages the automaker’s advanced manufacturing resources and consists of a supportive lattice structure that reportedly reduces muscle fatigue of the wearer. The made from a flexible material, the glove is also designed to be comfortable enough to wear over the course of an eight-hour shift. The glove prototype was 3D printed using the new HP Jet Fusion 5200 system and is made from the new ULTRASINT TPU material, developed by BASF.

After designing the glove using CAD software and testing out various lattice densities and materials, the Jaguar team is developing a second-generation prototype. This version of the 3D printed glove will integrate a foam pad made from impact additive D30, a polymer that absorbs impacts well. Eventually the glove will be rolled out to Jaguar Land Rover production line workers to ease certain tasks, like fitting door casings, which requires the use of the palm.

“The health and wellbeing of our workforce remains our priority across all factories and facilities,” said Chris Noble, Additive Manufacturing Strategic Engineer for Jaguar Land Rover. “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, developing equipment that will make Jaguar Land Rover a great place to work, now and in the future.”

Eventually, the 3D printed glove will be deployed at various Jaguar Land Rover facilities, helping to prevent the development of musculoskeletal disorders. The glove is just one avenue being explored by the company as part of a broader effort to introduce technologies and equipment that assist employees with muscle weakness or physical or neurological disorders.

The glove is being prototyped at the Jaguar Land Rover Additive Manufacturing Centre, where the automotive manufacturer produces over 80,000 parts a year. The parts are destined for a range of applications, including functional prototyping, design mock-ups and manufacturing assembly aids and fixtures. The company is also 3D printing end-use parts as part of its Jaguar XE SV Project 8.