PATH Seattle shop fabricates face shields for COVID-19 response

April 9, 2020 by Tom Furtwangler

Engineers test designs that use inexpensive, locally available materials.

Daniel Myers, a PATH product development engineer in SEattle, models the face shield design being fabricated in the seattle product development shop. Photo: PATH.

Daniel Myers, a PATH product development engineer, models the face shield being fabricated in the Seattle product development shop. Photo: PATH.

PATH’s Seattle product development shop has begun fabricating face shields for health care workers in the local COVID-19 response. Leveraging our expertise in medical device design and our shop’s capacity to 3D print and fabricate devices, we are an active participant in the global movement to share designs and fabricate personal protective equipment.

“Face shields by themselves do not prevent disease transmission, of course,” said Mike Eisenstein, PATH’s product development shop manager. “But in combination with a health care worker’s other protective equipment, they can provide an important additional barrier to droplets and virus transmission.”

The shield’s headband is 3D printed from designs being shared online by the global community of makers. With a goal of also testing an approach that is suitable for production in resource-constrained settings, PATH is producing a design where the clear face shield can be made from materials that can be sourced from an office supply store: clear acetate transparency sheets (commonly sold for overhead projectors) or clear plastic folders. The attachment points on the headband are spaced to match the holes made by a common three-hole punch found in most offices.

Face shields with CAD

The shield’s headband is 3D printed from designs being shared online by the global community of makers. Photo: PATH.

“We wanted to make production as easy as possible for shops and makers everywhere, and we wanted to avoid the need for scarce components,” said Mike. “Overhead transparency sheets and plastic folders cost very little and can be purchased in bulk.”

Design work was initially undertaken by PATH’s product engineers on a volunteer basis, but it has recently been accelerated by funding from several generous donors who have made it possible to support shop costs and purchase necessary supplies.

Darin Zehrung, program leader for PATH's Medical Devices and Health Technologies program, added, “The face shield is just one of the infection prevention technologies we are advancing locally with the aim of improving access and production capacity globally in low- and middle-income settings."

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