COVID-19 | Youngsters step up to make face shields

Protective gear: Constable Vanita Kirtane of Powai police station wearing a face shield while on duty on Tuesday.  

The novel coronavirus outbreak has opened a new market for face shields as protective gear for doctors, policemen, and other frontline workers and a bunch of 20-year-olds from Mumbai has taken the lead in designing and manufacturing them.

The youngsters have donated thousands of shields over the past 10 days and have ramped up production to meet the demands coming from hospitals across the State as well as other parts of the country.

Arjun Panchal (25) and his brother Parth (27) of Boson Machines, a city-based 3D printing company, have donated 10,000 face shields over the past week to various public hospitals, including Kasturba Hospital, which is city’s nodal isolation facility for COVID-19 patients.

“We started with making 800 pieces a day and have already scaled up to 8,000 pieces daily,” Arjun said, adding Dr. Swapneil Parikh from Jaslok Hospital helped them modify their face shield design.

Due to the labour shortage caused by the lockdown, the brothers started manufacturing in Goregaon with the help of their family members and have amplified the production to cater to demands. “We are getting funds through crowdsourcing,” Arjun said. They are able to make one piece at ₹80 and are working to bring the cost further down. “We are not looking at selling the face shields as of now.”

Firoza Kothari (27), founder of Anatomiz3D, a 3D printing and rapid prototyping company, has donated 1,000 face shields to four police stations — Dadar, Oshiwara, Vakola and Vile Parle — and is already dabbling with purchase orders from private hospitals and the police department.

The company has priced its face shield in the range of ₹180-₹300. “We were looking at avenues to contribute during the outbreak and realised that there was a growing demand for face shields. The 3D printing community has been very open and there are quite a few open-source designs available,” she said.

Ms. Kothari said they had taken references from available designs and created a model which was most comfortable for the use of frontline workers. “Our prototype has been validated by doctors,” she said. Anatomiz3D has manufactured 18,000 pieces in the last one week.

Another city-based 3D printing company, Tesseract, has produced 10,000 face shields over the past week and are now making 10,000 pieces a day.

“We have demands coming from across the State and even outside. There is a huge demand from Tamil Nadu where the number of COVID-19 cases has gone up,” said the company’s co-founder, Aman Modi (26).

While their model is priced at ₹100, they are working to bring the price down to ₹65 to ₹70 by next week. “The outbreak got us thinking about a quick fix solution. That’s when the idea of making face shields came up,” he said, adding they were using acrylonitrile butadiene styrene, a common thermoplastic polymer for the headband mould, and 0.4 mm polyvinyl chloride plastic polymer for the transparent sheet.

Wearing personal protective equipment can get cumbersome for frontline workers but it plays a crucial role in such a health emergency. “Face shields have been commonly used in the West. It definitely offers extra protection,” Dr. Jalil Parkar from Lilavati Hospital said.

Face shields are physical barriers meant to protect the facial area from splashes and spatter of body fluids. However, they cannot be used alone and are worn over the face masks for additional protection. Face shields are thus known as adjunctive personal protective equipment. On Tuesday, BMC commissioner Praveen Pardeshi was also seen wearing a face shield while surveying the containment zones in Worli and Dharavi.

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Printable version | Oct 22, 2021 4:18:45 PM |

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