Scalable and Sustainable Injection Moulded Face Shield Manufacturing for COVID-19
In early 2020, companies, institutions, and hobbyists worldwide reacted to the COVID‑19 pandemic by producing a wide range of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), primarily face shields, in a rapid response to supply chain shortages. Many of these designs utilized 3D printing technologies that made the PPEs costly, slow to produce, and often incompatible with sterilization processes due to the inherent porosity of the printing process. Using an entirely different process, Camosun College in collaboration with industry partner AP Plastics (APP) and the Vancouver Island Health Authority (Island Health) designed and rapidly produced over 9,000 face shields to address regional supply chain shortages in this crisis. With immediate needs satisfied, AP Plastics approached Camosun College identifying the need for a solution to the PPE shortage; one that fully conformed to the requirements and recommendations of Health Canada and the World Health Organization. Given the predicted second wave of cases for fall 2020, it was clear there needed to be a better solution. AP Plastics proposed a new injection moulded (IM) design addressing standard face shield concerns, reducing cost and increasing production speed. This applied research project utilizes generate-and test-methodology, combining expertise from Camosun Innovates (CI), APP, Island Health, and testing firm Intertek (to certify design and function). CI will pursue research and development of a face shield that is: inexpensive to produce, scalable for global manufacturing, optically correct, non-fogging, modular, and meets all health and safety standards. CI, APP, and Island Health are collaborating to research, design and fabricate next-generation face shields for health care workers and front-line staff. Challenges include ideation and design in response to the needs of industry, health authorities, and health care workers as well as materials testing, mould design and fabrication, iterative prototyping, and international certification for use in health fields.