Inspired by a Czech inventor, Dr. Joseph Hanna, assistant professor and medical director of emergency general surgery in Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School’s Division of Acute Care Surgery, designed a 3-D-printed face shield and eye shield to provide help during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I used [Josef] Prusa’s design for the face shield and went to Staples to pick up some Fellowes crystal presentation covers, which I cut out by hand to create the clear shield,” Hanna said. “I found a design for eye shields that is practically identical to the commercially purchased ones we use here and started 3-D printing those as well. I really focused on those because there are technological limitations that make face mask production more difficult.”
Because safety is critical, Hanna said he limited his current efforts to designs that have already been industry-proven. And, since the shields can be sterilized with ultraviolet (UV) light, they are a valuable resource in the event PPE supplies become more limited.
Face masks and filters are still being tested with regard to their safety and efficacy, but more is expected to come in that area as large corporations such as Hewlett Packard submit 3-D-printed designs for expedited approval and review, he said.
Hanna said he initially produced eight face shields and 10 eye shields, which he distributed to the acute care surgery division at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital New Brunswick, as well as the Intensive Care Unit at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital Somerset.
Hanna has already received requests for additional shields from other departments as well.
Because the 3-D printing machines he has at home are intended for hobby, rather than industrial use, the number of face/eye shields he is able to produce is limited.
“Anyone who needs it, I would love to help. It’s just a slow process and not a very high volume,” Hanna said. “But, if we can mobilize the 3-D printing community to use the tested patterns that are out there, it would be a great way to help meet what’s needed. If even 1,000 of the hobbyists in New Jersey and the surrounding area could print 10 face shields, that’s an additional 10,000 shields we’d have for the health care providers who need them.”
Rutgers is now in the process of coordinating Hanna’s efforts others’ 3-D printing expertise as part of an RU 3D PPE Project (or RU3DP2 for short) to bring together the university’s knowledge, skills and abilities to assist the Rutgers COVID-19 Task Force in overcoming shortages of PPE for frontline health care workers.