So for the past few weeks I’ve been all over the place working on compiling resources for making face shields for health care workers, and actually making them myself. Here I want to detail my process so that others can join in and help out as well.
Face shields can be an extremely valuable resource in hospitals because they are a form of semi-reusable PPE. By semi-reusable I mean that with proper sanitation and care they can be used multiple times in a crisis like this. A primary use of face shields is alleviating exposure due to splatter. Simply put, when intubating or ventilating a patient there is a large possibility for splatter of saliva, and I know people personally who have become ill due to this. Face shields can also serve to protect the N95 masks that healthcare workers are having to reuse due to low supply. An interesting paper on the effectiveness of face shields from the NIH is here.
Step 1: Resources
To start off, I’ve gathered some useful resources below.
The first one is from UCLA, it provides some good guidelines for printing and cleaning of PPE. It can be found here.
Next up is the National Institute of Health’s 3D Print exchange. It can be found here. As well as the DtM V3 face shield design is here. This is my preferred design, as it provides the greatest potential protection.
At the bottom of this post will be a list of different groups that you can get involved with, I highly HIGHLY recommend you do this. But if it is not an option or you want to help your local area you can follow the path I have and read the rest of this post!
Step 2: Contacting Hospitals Independently
If you choose to work independently the first step is to contact hospitals or doctors and see what their requirements are and what they’re looking for. As it stands just donating PPE like this is a bad idea, lots of hospitals aren’t allowed to use some, if any, models. This means that if you just dump PPE to a hospital, you’re only going to contribute to plastic waste as they get thrown out or stored indefinitely somewhere.
The solution is to talk to a hospital directly about what they need and what you can supply realistically. My manufacturing capacity peaks at 40-50 shields a day, which is fine for the few hospitals I’m supplying and is more than they need. Others may need more or less, communicate with them.
In my experience the best way to contact a hospital varies. It’s helpful if you know a nurse or doctor in the hospital, because they can get you to the necessary department or management. If not, then the second best way is to just call and explain your situation to the receptionist / person who picks up, it just takes a few more hoops.
Once you have a set plan or organization to work with, you can move onto step 3.
Step 3: Printing, Sanitation, and Storage
Printing parameters should be determined based off what models you choose to use. Personally I grabbed a 0.6mm nozzle and upped to 70mm/s print speeds, combined with a layer height of 0.3mm and I can get a DtM face shield out in around 1.5-2 hours. Follow whatever guidelines are given to you by the NIH design you choose. Also use PETG whenever possible, the prints will have a higher durability and theoretically less micro-pockets for bacterial growth.
Sanitation is arguably the most important part here, and the one I see people messing up most often. Regardless of your environment you need to sanitize the face shields. Due to the asymptomatic transmission risk of SARS-CoV-2 you should make sure to sanitize every print. Sanitization should be done according to the CDC guidelines found here. If you use an alcohol use one of 60% or greater concentration. Do NOT submerge the print; if you do this alcohol or water can seep into the print and leak out later onto a healthcare worker.
After you’ve sanitized the face shield, seal it inside a plastic ziploc bag. This plastic bag must be disposed of by the hospital after delivery, and is meant to prevent any further contamination during delivery or storage. A key takeaway from the hospitals I’ve talked with is to store the face shields in a brown paper bag, as SARS-CoV-2 has been shown to survive for long periods of time on plastic surfaces. Lastly, place the sealed plastic bag and shield inside the paper bag. Once you’ve sanitized and sealed up everything it’s time for the last and final step, delivery.
Step 4: Delivery
This step is hopefully the easiest, contact the hospital or whoever you’re working with and establish a drop off point. I prefer to drop off the materials, back away, and then make sure they get to the other person safely, but this is a personal preference because I live with an immunosuppressed person.
Also recommended is a happy smile and wave of appreciation to a healthcare worker. 😀
This is my current experience, methodology, and process. If I have any updates to them I will update this page accordingly. Additionally, I implore you during this time to please check in on your friends and family remotely. This is a hard time for everyone, and we should all make kindness normal.
If you have any comments, feedback, or additional resources please reach out to me! My email is firstname.lastname@example.org
Date of last update: April 14, 2020 @ 10:35 PM EDT
Below are some links for vetted organizations.