CINCINNATI, Ohio and LOUISVILLE, Ky. — GBBN is currently fabricating and distributing 650 3D printed face shields to healthcare institutions and nonprofits at the frontline of battling the COVID-19 crisis within Ohio and Kentucky.
“We’re not typically in the medical supply business,” says GBBN CEO, Matthew Schottelkotte, “but then our response to the novel coronavirus has our firm doing a lot of new things. What’s not new is that this response is rooted in our maker culture.”
The effort to produce the face shields has been headed up by members of GBBN’s 3D Printing Focus Group. In late March, when it became clear that GBBN could help address shortages in medical supplies by 3D printing face shields, the group started working on their own personal 3D printers (or on printers borrowed from the office) to test prototypes from open-source face shield designs.
The first version of the face shield frame—the piece that sits on the forehead and holds the clear shield—took over three hours to print. Several versions of the design were tested before hitting on one that not only worked with the available printers, but also printed quickly enough to allow the group to ramp up production.
With growing concern that aerosolized particles could transmit COVID-19 through the surface of the eye, it was especially important to use a design that shielded medical workers’ eyes from above. “Adding a solid visor panel to the frame would have solved this problem,” says GBBN’s Andrew Campbell, “but it would have drastically increased print time and lowered production capacity.”
Fortunately, the team figured out that they could laser cut the piece of acetate that formed the plastic shield itself so that, when assembled, it would bend towards its wearer’s forehead and provide the protection that was needed.
Read more about GBBN’s response to COVID-19 here.