Make a Face Shield on Your 3D Printer

  • Published: Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Many 3D printing enthusiasts are using their printers to help provide masks, face shields and other forms of personal protective equipment (PPE) to reduce the strain on health care providers who are facing shortages due to the rapid spread of COVID-19.

Schools1, libraries2, universities3 and individuals4 are donating their time, material and expertise to produce these life-saving devices like face shields, masks, even clips to take the strain off the ears from wearing masks. (Check out links to some of the articles at the end of this blog post.)

I have researched the designs shared in the 3D printing community to create everything from PPE to disposable respirator valves and hose splitters. After testing some patterns, I found most of the 3D design models are based on the Prusa RC3 design, a pattern the company has shared for anyone wishing to make the face shield.

3D-printed face shield

It uses a 3D-printed frame, to which a transparent sheet for the shield is attached. This sheet can simply be a page protector purchased from any office supply store. The frame is secured to the head with some kind of elastic band.Although this is a great design, I chose to modify the attachment points to holes with pins which I believe will provide a more secure anchoring point.

I also reinforced the shield bar and added some ventilation holes. In the slicer settings, I went with a 10 percent infill and padded brims for the base. That makes the printing time on my personal Makerbot Gen5 about two hours. This design allows for stacking with some extra post-processing to create more than one at a time.

Currently, this type of face shield production will comply with FDA guidance regarding medical face masks and respirators.5

If you are interested in making shields for others, here are a few best practices:

  • Act as if you were infected by the COVID-19 virus. Wear a face mask and a fresh pair of gloves when collecting each batch of printed parts. Store the parts immediately in a sealable bag.

  • Talk with the person you're making the shields for; let them know about your manufacturing environment.
  • There is still debate about how long the virus survives on plastic, but most sources mention two to three days. That means that by letting the packed face shields sit for two to three days before distributing them, you’ll greatly reduce risk of transmission.
  • Do not store the entire stock in one place, minimize the risk of cross-contamination.
  • Find an organization with the need or that will accept the shields when you are done before going into full scale production. If you hospitals are fully stocked, you might consider first responders and nursing homes where shortages are common.

Looking for a partner who needs the shields you are making? Search by state or region for health care organizations looking for mask donations. At the time of this post, there were four Missouri organizations in various parts of the state requesting PPE.

BJC HealthCare also has a website listing those who are seeking donations of masks.

Notes

  1. "Kirksville teacher, student 3-D printing face shields for virus ...." 25 Mar. 2020, https://www.lakenewsonline.com/news/20200325/kirksville-teacher-student-3-d-printing-face-shields-for-virus-protection/1. Accessed 7 Apr. 2020.
  2. "Top 5 Videos: Public library makes 3D printed face shields ...." 4 Apr. 2020, https://www.3dnatives.com/en/top-5-videos-3d-printed-face-shields-050420204/. Accessed 7 Apr. 2020.
  3. "Campus rallies to 3-D print protective medical gear - Missouri ...." 23 Mar. 2020, https://news.mst.edu/2020/03/campus-rallies-to-3-d-print-protective-medical-gear/. Accessed 7 Apr. 2020.
  4. "LOCAL LOOKOUT: Columbia teen designing, 3D printing face ...." https://www.komu.com/news/local-lookout-columbia-teen-designing-3d-printing-face-shields-for-healthcare-workers. Accessed 7 Apr. 2020.
  5. "Enforcement Policy for Face Masks and Respirators ... - FDA." 25 Mar. 2020, https://www.fda.gov/media/136449/download. Accessed 6 Apr. 2020.
  6. "From Design to Mass 3D printing of Medical Shields in Three ...." 18 Mar. 2020, https://blog.prusaprinters.org/from-design-to-mass-3d-printing-of-medical-shields-in-three-days/. Accessed 6 Apr. 2020.