Dubai: While it has become the norm to wear a face mask when going outside, a couple of 3D printing companies in Dubai have suggested using a face shield to provide a wider 180-degree protection of the face against coronavirus (COVID-19).
“Unlike a face mask that is only covering the nose and month – leaving the eyes exposed and giving only limited protection – a visor covers not only the full face but also makes the person wearing the face shield conscious not to touch their face, Lothar Hohmann, president of 3D printing company Precise Group, told Gulf News.
Hohmann noted people touch their face between 20 to 50 times an hour, most of the time unintentional, which significantly increases the chances of contracting the virus.
“We like to make everybody become conscious not to touch their face as the mouth, nose and eyes are the main areas for the transmission of the infection. What we need to do is to ‘quarantine our face’ and isolate it against any contact, and most importantly from our own hands,” he underlined.
“The face shields are effective in protecting our faces, as it offers a wider 180-degree coverage, as opposed to only the mouth and nose with an a face mask.”
“A face shield is also an economical option as the visors can be used multiple times by wiping it with disinfectants and can be eventually replaced as well,” Hohmann added.
Hohmann said the face shield frame is designed for optimal comfort and to help the visor stay in place. His company is producing two types of protective face shields. They use Ultimaker 3D printers, which are designed and built for fused filament fabrication (FFF) and in terms of its 3D printing material, they use PLA (polylactic acid) for fast and reliable printing.
The company has already produced around 15,000 units of face shield, and is targeting to reach an optimal capacity of producing 3,000 face shields daily or at least 20,000 units weekly, Hohmann added.
Another Dubai-based company producing 3D printed face shields is Proto 21. The company is using PA 12 Nylon powder which is also bio compatible to produce at least 1,500 face shields in a week
“We are also currently designing a model for doctors for converting snorkel mask into an emergency ventilator, which we are doing free of cost,” Cinderella John, marketing & communications manager, told Gulf News.
Design is free to download
Anyone with a 3D printer can actually produce a face shield. To combat the shortage of PPEs (Personal Protective Equipment), 3D printing communities across the world have produced protective wear for those who need it the most.
The design for a face shield is fully open-source and anyone can produce or modify it. Hewlett-Packard, for one, has posted has posted on its website a downloadable step-by-step process to 3D print a face shield https://enable.hp.com/us-en-3dprint-COVID-19-containment-applications.
The next step is producing a face shield is Copper 3d printing. According to experts, “copper has been used in clinical settings to reduce the risk of bacterial and viral contamination, complementing traditional protocols. Copper produce filaments for antimicrobial device and is considered to be one of the most effective materials that exist for killing coronavirus.”
DIY face shield
Having no 3D printer did not hamper a resourceful Dubai resident to create from home his own version of protective face shield.
Filipino expat Benjie Bogal, an engineer by profession, said it did not cost him an arm and a leg to make a face shield.
“I rummaged through my old stuff. First I took out the plastic covering of my collectible toy (a Dead Pool action figure –shown in the photo) and removed the foam from the boxes of my wallet and fountain pens,” Bogal shared with Gulf News.
“Then, I cut the plastic and made sure it will give at least a 180-degree coverage of my face. I also used old garters and glued them together. I did not buy anything; I only spent Dh8 to buy a super-adhesive glue, he added.
Overall, it took under three hours for Bogal to finish his DIY (do-it-yourself) face shield, including the drying time for the glue.
“As a final touch to cap – pun intended, he said – my face shield, I used my favourite basketball to add flair to my protective gear,” he concluded.