3D-printed protective face shields look to be a practical solution that is fueling an effort to keep medical personnel battling the coronavirus. The population-curbing virus has been prominent in some parts of the world like China and more recently, Italy has seen a Hong Kong-based university turn to 3D printing for possible and practical protective solutions.
The institution has turned to 3D printing technology to print and provide thousands of medical protective face shields to the city’s hospital workers battling to contain the coronavirus outbreak.
A higher learning institution, Polytechnic University, is using its 3D printing lab to design and help produce the transparent protective face mask, which doctors and nurses can wear to protect themselves against bodily fluids from which the infection is known to spread.
The institution is working with local manufacturers to help them produce and deliver up to 10,000 face shields to the Hospital Authority on Tuesday. Production of the protective face mask is expected to be ramped up to 30,000 per day by the end of March.
“PolyU is doing technology transfer to the industry, and for the industry to help the Hospital Authority and society,” said Man Hau-Chung, dean of the engineering faculty at the university, who oversees the lab.
The protective face masks that the Hospital Authority asked PolyU to help produce at the beginning of February is made of a 3D-printed frame to be worn against the head. The frame holds a plastic sheet that covers the entire face. The shields are meant to be single-use equipment and can be worn over surgical masks.
The lab designed, tested, and approved the final product in less than a week.
“The face shield is very simple to produce,” Wai said.
The printing of the protective face masks has been overseen by 6 technicians at the university’s 3D Printing Lab, working hard to monitor the battalion of over 30 3D printers continuously churning out frames. The technicians then attach the plastic covers to get them ready for use. The University’s lab 3D printed the first batch of 800 face protectors, but additional production has been outsourced to local manufacturing companies.
This is not the only practical coronavirus combating equipment inspired by 3D printing. Last week, Chinese construction 3D printing company WinSun announced it was 3D printing and deploying isolation wards for medical staff in Hubei province.