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article image3D printing technology utlized to make protective face shields

By Tim Sandle     May 17, 2020 in Health
Researchers have successfully developed high technology 3D printing and polymer injection molding to produce thousands of pieces of protective face shield components per day. These products are for health workers, in light of the coronavirus pandemic.
Scientists working at the University of Bradford in the U.K. have successfully used additive manufacturing to begin the mass production of face shields. The face protection will be made available to the health service (the U.K. NHS) as part of the measures being adopted to counter the global coronavirus pandemic.
As well as the involvement of the University, two local organizations are also involved: additive manufacturer ActiveCell Technologies and the firm Teconnex (which assist with the laser-cutting of visors). The molds used in the process were built in German and the machined in the U.K. The size and number of molds enables a production rate of 5,000 items each day.
Production takes place in a cleanroom environment, with regular disinfection of the equipment and items. Because of a shortage of supplies for health workers, the 3D printing process is sufficiently agile so that headbands can be produced so that acetate sheets used in overhead projectors can be attached as visors, in the last resort should conventional plastic face guards become unavailable.
Commenting on the development, Professor Tim Gough states that the project was initiated due to the shortage of protective equipment for health workers. According to Gough: "These are not the facemasks which you now see many people wearing in public but face shields, which have a clear plastic visor."
The importance of a visor is because: "A lot of transmission is coming from patient coughing and that can infect the carer through respiratory transmission. We are manufacturing headbands and headpieces to go around the head, which you can then attach a visor to."
Also in development is an ‘ear saver’, a device intended to prevent the chafing caused by prolonged mask wearing, plus an alternative face shield intended for use in care homes.
More about coronavirus, 3D printing, additive manufacturing, polymers
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