In the fight against the coronavirus epidemic, personal protective equipment (PPE) such as face shields and disposable gowns are desperately needed in hospitals.
The aim of alleviating the imminent need for protective gear amongst frontline medical professionals, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU) has been collaborating with Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QE) and the Hospital Authority (HA) respectively to design and produce 3D-printed eye shields and face shields.
As the face shield is a one-off disposable item, the team chose a less expensive PLA filament material to develop the 3D printed frame and attached it with a plastic clear film.
They also leveraged the studies of the School of Design in the comparison of head size between Asians and Westerners in order to design a face shield that better fits Chinese wearers.
Designed by PolyU and made in Hong Kong, this is a testament to the competence and capability of the Hong Kong manufacturing industry.
PolyU has mobilized all its 3D printers in its University Research Facility in 3D Printing (U3DP) and in other departments to operate 24 hours a day to produce 700 eye shields and over 800 face shields over the last 10 days.
With support from the local manufacturing industry with which PolyU has strong connections, the production of face shields has been increased to 10,000 pieces per day starting from today and will reach 30,000 pieces per day by late March.
It is hoped that this steady supply of face shields will help meet the imminent needs of Hong Kong’s frontline medical personnel.
The Vice President (Research Development), Deputy President and Provost designate of PolyU stated that during the coronavirus outbreak, solidarity is one of the essential elements to battle the disease.
The partnership between PolyU, HA/QE and the industry is a good example that embodies the spirit of ‘when one place suffers, aid comes from all sides’. The teams have joined hands to overcome these difficult times together.
The HA Chief Manager (Infection, Emergency and Contingency) noted that PolyU has made every effort to develop a swift solution for rapidly producing face shields and to help line up domestic production, thus the HA can fill up the stockpile of face shields to meet our need during the epidemic.
Over only a fortnight, the university rallied its forces from design to mould-making, and finally, production. This is very exceptional in terms of the short time taken in manufacturing a product, and thanks are due to the dedication and seamless support from the industry.
According to another report, it was noted that the University, working with local manufacturers, the university will deliver 10,000 face shields to the Hospital Authority on Tuesday, with the production of up to 30,000 per day predicted by the end of March 2020.
The university is doing technology transfer to the industry, and for the industry to help the Hospital Authority and society, the Dean of the engineering faculty at the university stated.
The face shield consists of a 3D-printed frame, worn against the forehead, which holds a plastic sheet covering the entire face. The single-use shields can be worn over surgical masks, which doctors and nurses already wear.
The Hospital Authority contacted PolyU to help produce the face shields at the beginning of February.
The production comes as Hong Kong faces shortages of critical supplies, including surgical masks, as the coronavirus continues its spread. As of Monday afternoon, the city had 79 confirmed cases of the disease known as Covid-19, among whom two had died.