The US continues to fail to react to the COVID-19 pandemic, at both the federal and state levels. So DIY activities from researchers, hobbyists, engineering specialists, and specialist companies have gathered around COVID hotspots like New York City to address the needs of health care employees and those on the front line of the response campaign.
Many of these projects are tightly coordinated, requiring collaborations to supply goods through state lines and make use of production facilities of industrial standards. But virtually all started in people’s living rooms with access to a 3D printer and the creativity of throwing together stopgap steps when traditional production chains were failing to keep up.
That ideal world is far from being possible. Face covers, which Hudspeth claims are seldom seen outside of surgery and rather specific operations in normal medical settings, ended up being second in demand compared to face masks, which were also in short supply.
NeOne challenge awaiting PPE-producing ventures knows when to shut them down, as more modern methods of produce begin to ramp up. Choksi and Gil state that they are now getting regular requests for more face masks and shortages will persist as long as the novel coronavirus manages to threaten the US health care system and its hospital and other frontline staff.
A face shield of the DIY type usually consists of a semi-circle visor of molded or printed plastic, often called a frame, sometimes connected by glue to a sheet of foam that sits on the forehead. The unit then mounts on a long sheet of the transparent plastic film just above the face. They are also not as complicated as, say, respiratory face masks, or bound by regulatory restrictions.
The lack of legislation related to face shields has made them an enticing choice for large and small manufactures searching for a way to chip in. In early April, Apple CEO Tim Cook revealed that his company will create tens of millions of face shields for health care employees in California, and Apple’s website now features a guide for tutorials.
All are held with a rubber band or similar elastic brace. It is an easy way to shield someone’s face while dealing with a patient who is potentially COVID-positive. Such shields can be manufactured cheaply, conveniently sanitized and reused afterward.