By Diya Tomar
Due to the current situation, many healthcare employees are spending countless hours at the front lines of the COVID-19 outbreak response. The exposure to the virus puts many staff members at risk of infection. In order to support medical workers, 3D printing communities across the globe have been contributing to the face shield initiative started by the 3D printing company, Prusa Research, in order to protect both healthcare workers and their patients. If you happen to own a 3D printer, you can contribute to this project and help the effort against COVID-19.
A face shield is an item of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) that aims to protect the wearer from hazards and potentially infectious materials. Although many different types of face shields exist, the most commonly used one among medical professionals is a clear, curved plastic sheet attached to a headband. The shield is usually meant to provide secondary protection when used with a primary piece of protection like a face mask.
If you own a 3D printer and are interested in creating face shields, you will need the following materials:
- Print files for the printed parts (you can find these on the Prusa Research website)
- Clear binding sheets
- Hole puncher
Once the pieces are printed, you can move forward with the assembly of the face shield. The way you assemble the shield depends on which model you print, however, the general instructions are to punch holes at the top of the clear binding sheet, round the bottom corners (you can do this with scissors or a laser cutter), and then attach them together. For further guidance, it is advised to visit Prusa Research’s website for clear instructions for assembly.
The best way to contribute to the initiative is to find a local effort or organization that has information on which locations are accepting face shields. Operating through an organization can reduce strain on hospitals and make it more convenient for them to accept a larger shipment of face shields instead of a few here and there. If you do not own certain materials (ex. clear binding sheets), some organizations may be able to supply them to you in order to complete your face shields.
If you are unsure of how to find an organization, Prusa Research’s website provides the locations of chapters near you that you can contact and possibly work with. Aside from that, many projects have promoted their 3D printing groups online on platforms such as Instagram and Facebook, which provides another way to learn about opportunities near you.