How 3D-printed Face Shields are Helping Indians Fight COVID-19
As the COVID-19 pandemic rages on and the number of infected cases in India continues to rise steadily, the demand for face shields, COVID-19 face masks and other forms of personal protective equipment (PPE) has grown manifold.
Supplies have dried up and medical personnel at the forefront of this battle find themselves completely exposed to the contagion. The world of 3D printing in India has risen to the occasion and has started to offer innovative and improvised solutions to tackle this monumental crisis.
3D-printed Face Mask
Harnessing the almost infinite potential of 3D printing technology, many 3D printing services in the country have volunteered to create and distribute protective face masks. These are designed for the sole purpose of protecting the selfless medical personnel fighting the deluge of coronavirus patients across hospitals in India!
Considering that doctors and nurses are spending entire days and nights in their gear, efforts are ongoing to make these face masks less painful to wear. For example, the thread used to hold the mask in place can cause swelling and reddening around the user’s ears and nose.
3D printing in the medical industry can solve this by replacing the thread with specially designed pressure relievers. The efficient nature of the technology also means that thousands of life-saving masks can be 3D-printed within a day.
3D-printed Face Shields
Another innovation offered to frontline workers is the 3D-printed face shield, which can be fitted over an N95 mask, thereby creating an extra layer of protection for the user. This shield comprises two parts:
- A plastic helmet made out of PLA (polylactic acid).
- A 0.4 mm transparent sheet made of PVC (polyvinyl chloride) attached to the helmet.
The face shields are highly affordable, costing as low as ₹125 to ₹175. However, earnest efforts are also underway to make them available for free, at least to the government hospitals and the police. These shields can be produced at a whopping rate of 5,000 units/ day!
According to official government reports, India has a paltry 50,000 ventilators at its disposal, hardly sufficient to combat the ever-increasing number of COVID-19 cases. Here, again, online 3D printing has come to the rescue with firms producing an pioneering ventilator splitter.
The advantage of this splitter, as the name suggests, is that, once fitted to an existing ventilator, it can split the oxygen supply in a 50:50 ratio, thus, simultaneously helping two patients to breathe using a single source of oxygen. A variation of this is the differential ventilator splitter which is capable of dividing the oxygen supply into a 30:70 ratio, for those who need more than some other patients.