Helping the Medical Community – Have a 3D Printer?

Medical Face Shields during the Th COVID-19 outbreak continues to expand globally. Information from healthcare organizations say that some distributors have placed certain types of personal protective equipment (PPE) on allocation, therefore, Basing the quantity of Medical Face Shields available to the healthcare organization on previous usage, not projected use.  This formula greatly puts the front-line health workers at great risk.

Medical Face Shields simple in design, produced and assembled by hobbyists on their own home 3D printers.  Searching for a way to help the medical workforce?  Already have a 3D printer (or even a laser cutter) at home? In addition, join an organized effort near you for the best way to get distribution of the Medical Face Shields made by you.

What is a Face Shield – What Does It Do?

Many types of medical face shields show up on medical markets. The type most medical workers seek is a piece of clear, curved plastic suspended in front of the wearer’s face secured by a headband. Stopping bodily fluids and droplets, whether from a patient’s cough or other medical event from reaching the wearer’s eyes, nose, or mouth. A shield is usually meant to provide secondary protection when used with a primary piece of personal protective equipment (PPE) such as a face mask. [1]

A face shield offers several potential advantages:

  • Good neck protection
  • Also, Ear coverage for most users
  • Resistant to most disinfectants
  • Additionally, closed cell foam does not absorb liquids and provides protection from vertical contaminants
  • Adjustable Velcro, industrial grade [2]

Community Organizers: Best Way to Distribute

Until these mass-production operations ramp up or factory manufacturing catches up, hospitals face a huge shortage, therefore, this where 3D printing comes in. Additionally, you are able to design a prototype, print it, and deliver the shield to a hospital in a day, without the long development process other technologies require. A single printer will make the parts for 10 face shields in 24 hours.  3D printing is not the world’s fastest means of getting product out, however, when you get numerous people together, printing and assembly is easily attained in a short time. Hospitals and doctors offices are getting larger numbers at one time with the exact specifications desired. [2]

Equally important, if you already have a 3D printer at home, the first thing you should do is find and join a local effort, one that knows where shields needed and how to produce rapidly. Operating through a community organizer reduces the strain on hospitals.  Therefore, working with one person rather than many people making small amounts of face shields . Helping to get more masks at one time rather than a few every so often.  

Additionally, local organizers, can readily point you toward the right face shield design to use. Different hospitals and health-care workers have different preferences. Others have face mask models prototyped in partnership with a hospital or doctor. You may need to purchase a specific type of filament; such as PETG (Polyethylene Terephthalate Glycol-modified). A flexible, less brittle and durable, therefore, withstanding higher temperatures for cleaning and disinfecting multiple times.

Many 3D Medical facial shield libraries with patterns exist on the internet with Specific instructions, material used and how to assemble. See Below  [3,4,5]

Basics Needed – Medical Face Shield

1.  Face Shield

Each face shield cut from of a clear sheet material of (PETG) . Recommend 1/32” (0.79 mm) thick clear polycarbonate with holes cut out from a US standard 3-hole punch. Also, thicker and thinner sheets work with this designs from 0.008” – 0.04”. The shield protects below the neck and past the temples, giving the user a wide range of motion. https://glewengineering.com/3d-printers-no-longer-just-for-engineering-teams/

2.  Splash Guard

The face shield frame has retention tabs that will hook standard headwear like surgical bonnets and bouffants , protect your face from aerosol and particulates

3. Suspension System

Also, rubber-bands, elastic straps and nylon cord are some of the wide variety of suspension system options available.

Ending Thoughts

The shortage is global and immediate, everyone with a 3D printer will help. Additionally, 3D printing communities across the world became a massive driving force in the effort to produce Medical Face Shields,  as well as, protective wear for those, who need it the most. Should not you own a 3D printer, you may want to work with top administrators to get access to these printers. An email to the University Librarian, the Chair of Engineering, or even a senior administrative official might get you access to otherwise locked buildings and equipment.

End Notes

  1. https://j-pacmedical.com/J-Shields_PPE-face-shield.php
  2. https://thewirecutter.com/blog/3d-printer-coronavirus-face-shield/
  3. https://studio.cul.columbia.edu/face-shield/
  4. https://www.prusa3d.com/covid19/