Polymer bushing and wear material producer Vesconite Bearings has prototyped a face shield in response to the global call to produce personal protective equipment for emergency medical personnel and nurses.
Some 30 prototype shields, including five with holes, have been sent to a health facility for testing and to verify that the design, which includes a construction helmet and a visor, is valuable and user-friendly.
Hobbyists, globally, are producing various shield components to answer the medical-fraternity call for protection against small infectious Covid-19 respiratory droplets that may be transmitted directly to the eyes, mouth or nose of health-workers.
The face shields they need are usually made of an “alice band” that surrounds the forehead and to which is attached a face-covering plastic sheet, sometimes made from glycolized polyester (PETG).
Vesconite Bearings has made some of these 3D-printed “alice bands” and screens.
However, not content with the two and a half hours that it would take to make an individual shield, it investigated whether there was an easier quicker-to-make solution.
Following this, it prototyped a polycarbonate version of the shield, which is attached to a typical mining or construction hard-hat.
“We were able to make 30 shields in two and a half hours,” says Vesconite Bearings Moulding Head of Department Christian Brumloop.
Besides reducing production times, the design prevents droplets from potentially infecting health-workers by landing on their heads, from where droplets could be later transported to the eyes, nose or mouth.
The hats are also riveted and the shields drilled so that they can be fitted together without additional connections; the design is thus complete and does not require a third party to attach the shields to 3D-printer-enthusiast-produced bands.
The company has, furthermore, drilled five hats with holes to determine whether this improves temperature control and reduces the fogging of the visor, elaborates Brumloop.
It is keen on discovering any adverse effects, such as humidity, of including the harder 1mm polycarbonate together with the hard hat, he notes.
“We will beat this as a collective,” says Brumloop of the large number of people who are spending their lockdown printing or manufacturing shields for valued medical personnel who may be exposed to the Coronavirus.
“If you can assist, you do,” he adds of the traditional and prototype designs that have been produced.