The Spread of COVID-19 (Coronavirus) in South Africa is Continuing to Spread. Our Frontline Defenders – Medical Personnel – are also Getting Infected by the Virus. With Increasing Cases and a Backlog of Medical Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), An Alternative Must be Investigated. What are 3D Printable Face Shields and How Are They Used? This Article Will Answer all the Important Questions About 3D Printed Face Shield
The Current Pandemic
The Coronavirus (COVID-19) is an infectious disease caused by a newly discovered coronavirus strain.
What is Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19)?
The COVID-19 disease is a new virus which belongs to the Coronavirus family. The disease causes respiratory illness (like the flu) with symptoms such as a cough, fever, headaches, and in more severe cases, difficulty breathing. This virus has swept the globe and infected hundreds to thousands of people in various countries and has resulted in the death of many people. In South Africa, both patients and now medical personnel are slowing getting infected.
How is Coronavirus (COVID-19) Spread?
The COVID-19 virus is thought to spread mainly from person-to-person. This occurs between people who may be in close contact with one another, usually within a meter. It can also spread through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs, sneezes or talks close to you. These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs. It is, however, important to maintain social distancing (2 meters apart) to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
It is also possible that a person can get infected with COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus. After touching a surface that has the virus on it and touching your mouth, nose or eyes, you may become infected. This is why it is important to also practice good hygiene to help prevent getting infected.
Importance of Knowing About the Pandemic
It is important that people are aware of this deathly virus and know all the correct information regarding it. The best source is the World Health Organisation. The button below is a link to their website. 3DWhip encourages our readers to visit their website if you want to learn more about COVID-19.
Our South African readers can be up to date with the current cases and news feeds from the Department of Health. Use the button below to go to their website.
Personal Protective Equipment – Medical Face Shields
Medical face shields have been designed and developed to protect medical personnel against viruses.
Why do Medical Personnel Use Face Shields?
Face shields are considered personal protective equipment (PPE) used by many facilities to protect the entire face and eyes of the user from hazards such as flying objects, debris, chemical splashes, and infectious materials. In the case of medical personnel, face shields help protect against infectious materials.
When Do Medical Personnel Use Face Shields?
Face shields are protective equipment, however, is usually not used alone but in conjunction with other protective equipment. Research has shown that when using a minimum of an N95 FFR face mask with a face shield, it has been effective in protection from airborne severe respiratory diseases such as novel influenza A virus and SARS. SARS is of the same family as the novel-coronavirus.
How Are Face Shields Used?
As mentioned previously, these face shields are additional protective equipment that medical personnel use. A common practice is to use this equipment with face masks and gloves. The face shield is essentially two pieces. The first part is the headband which fits over the user’s head or forehead and forms the main attachment. The second part is the clear plastic shield which is attached to the headband. The shield is used to protect the user from external factors.
Where Are Face Shields Used?
Face shields are personal protective equipment devices that are used by several workers in various fields such as dental, medical, veterinary and construction for the protection of the facial area from splashes, sprays, and splatter of body fluids. The shield is a protective measure and depending on the field of work, it design may vary. The focus here, however, is for medical use in the hope to protect against the COVID-19 virus.
3D Printed Face Shield
A 3D printable face shield can be used as a last resort to supplement should the demand be unable to be satisfied. It can help contain the spread of the virus from an infected person.
Face Shield Design
There are currently multiple versions and designs of 3D-printable face shields. Each one has a unique shape, structural design, print time, components and various other attachments and improvements. The face shields presented in this article have been verified by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) and National Institute of Health (NIH).
3D Printer Settings for the Face Shields
The print setting for the mask is presented below. It has been determined to print the shield headband but still keep it robust, stable and strong.
Assembling the 3D Printed Face Shield
Once the 3D Printer is setup with the correct print settings the approved face shield headbands can be 3D printed.
Once the approved shield has been printed, it needs to be assembled with the foam padding and the clear shield. This ensures that the final face shield can be used and be effective.
Adding the Face Shield. Standard A4 transparency or report-cover can be used for the shield (landscape orientation). Alternative materials include clear PETG, PMMA or mylar cut to the same dimensions. A standard document paper punch can be used to make the holes for the shield. You should add tape (medical cloth tape) to reinforce the holes at the top of the transparency sheet during repeat use and washing.
Safety of the 3D Printed Face Shield
Safety is the number one priority of any medical personnel. It is important to know that face shields are usually a supplement measure, particularly, 3D printed versions. The information is provided to you the reader but please understand that this isn’t the only available source. There are currently a number of online social platforms that educate people of the virus, the use of these types of face shields, and the safety and concerns regarding this.
The use of 3D printed face shields is to be used by healthcare workers that are responding to COVID-19 and who face personal protective equipment (PPE) supply gaps. It should be used to supplement the current demand while waiting for domestic face shield production or supplies to catch up.
Within the South African context, it is with the advice of the engineering team as well as the medical consultants to 3DWhip that these face shields be used. These designs have been approved to be used in a medical or clinical setting. We do not approve the use of any other version of 3D printable face shield headbands since many do not take into account of the aerosol protection. COVID-19 is a serious virus and it is the responsibility of professionals to understand fully the requirements and safety aspects before presenting solutions that could create more harm than good.
NOTE: These versions are approved to be used in a clinical setting. Please use the link below to view more information about the creators, the review process and other approved designs.
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