As the number of reported Coronavirus cases rises around the world, regions affected by the virus are taking serious measures to contain its spread. At the Polytechnic University in Hong Kong, students and faculty from the 3D Printing Lab are reportedly playing their part by 3D printing medical face shields designed to protect medical staff.
The 3D printed shields go beyond traditional face-masks—which have been in shortage around the world since the news of the Coronavirus outbreak—and consist of a 3D printed frame that holds a clear plastic sheet in front of the entire face. The 3D printed frame, which fits against the wearer’s forehead, can be fitted with a new plastic sheet when needed and is designed to be worn over surgical masks.
The 3D printed plastic coverings are expected to help protect medical workers who are most at risk of being exposed to the virus while treating patients. The coronavirus is contracted by the exchange of bodily fluids through coughing or sneezing, so having a transparent screen blocking the entire face could eliminate a significant risk of catching it.
The Polytechnic University’s 3D Printing Lab is working with various local production companies to deliver about 10,000 face shields to the Hospital Authority today. According to the South China Morning Post, a production rate of up to 30,000 units per day is expected by the end of March.
The transparent face protectors were developed quickly, and 3D printing played a vital role in the rapid product development turnaround times. The Polytechnic University was contacted by the Hospital Authority earlier this month, meaning that the face masks were designed, tested and deployed within just a few weeks. The design, testing and approval phase of the project reportedly only took one week.
Since the approval, technicians at the university’s 3D Printing Lab have been working hard, monitoring over 30 printers that are turning out the frames and attaching plastic covers to them. The University’s lab 3D printed a first batch of 800 face protectors, but additional production has been outsourced to local manufacturing companies.
The 3D printed masks are not the only way that additive manufacturing has been employed to help fight and contain the coronavirus. Last week, Chinese construction 3D printing company WinSun announced it was 3D printing and deploying isolation wards for medical staff in Hubei province. In both cases, 3D printing technologies have allowed people to come up with solutions practically on-the-fly to respond to the outbreak.
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[Source: South China Morning Post]