By HCO Staff
LOS ANGELES—HMC Architects is among the latest design brands to manufacture face shields for healthcare workers in response to the ongoing coronavirus crisis.
Using the Columbia University Library Studios information as a guide, the design firm is applying its fabrication capabilities and Ultimaker 3D printers to manufacture PPE face shields and make them available to hospitals and clinics in its communities.
The United States is currently facing a face mask shortage as novel coronavirus continues to sweep through the nation; as of March 31 there are more than 161,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and more than 3,000 deaths.
“As architects, we design to make people’s lives better,” said HMC President and CEO Brian Staton. “If there was any time for innovative design firms to step up and provide resources to make a difference in the lives of our communities, it’s right now. We hope to distribute as many as we can to support the efforts of our heroic healthcare workers.”
With 3D printers running all day, every day from remote (work from home) locations in Los Angeles, San Diego, San Jose, Sacramento, and Ontario, Calif., HMC designers are estimating up to 35 face shields per day. According to Staton, HMC will continue to print as long as they have material to print with.
The face shields are made up of three parts:
An elastic headband holding the shield in place on the healthcare worker’s head; A 3D-printed headband connecting the elastic to the transparent shield that rests on the healthcare worker’s forehead; A transparent shield made of PETG (a thin, clear impermeable plastic).
Using 3D models provided by from the Columbia University Library Studios website, the firm is able to coordinate a lot of information at the same time to fabricate the 3D printed headband that connects the elastic to the shield. HMC is sourcing the face shield material (PETG 30 mil sheet material) from Riverside Plastics, a local Southern California plastic supplier. Other materials such as foam weather stripping for comfort and all-day use, elastic straps for the headbands, and Ziploc bags for packaging are being sourced from local hardware and fabric retailers.
During and after the items have been produced, HMC designers are sanitizing the shields and packaging them for distribution. The firm is putting together a distribution strategy and are in the process of connecting with healthcare organizations most in need and plans to begin distributing the face shields by next week. HMC has also been in touch with other local architecture firms in the hopes that their work inspires others to join their effort
HMC joins the list of other innovative design brands—such as Under Armour, New Balance, Chanel and Ralph Lauren—to find creative ways to respond to the shortage caused by COVID-19.
Earlier reports suggested if coronavirus would be declared a pandemic—which the WHO did declare on March 11—medical workers in the country would need an estimated 3.5 billion face masks over the year, according to the Department of Health and Human Services.
HMC Architects is a healthcare, education, and civic architecture firm with a sustainable approach to design; it was founded in 1940.