A quantitative analysis of 3D printed face shields and masks during COVID-19

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Novak, James I
Loy, Jennifer
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In response to shortages in personal protective equipment (PPE) during the COVID-19 pandemic, makers, community groups and manufacturers around the world utilised 3D printing to fabricate items, including face shields and face masks for healthcare workers and the broader community. In reaction to both local and global needs, numerous designs emerged and were shared online. In this paper, 37 face shields and 31 face masks suitable for fused filament fabrication were analysed from a fabrication perspective, documenting factors such as filament use, time to print and geometric qualities. 3D print times for similar designs varied by several hours, meaning some designs could be produced in higher volumes. Overall, the results show that face shields were approximately twice as fast to 3D print compared to face masks and used approximately half as much filament. Additionally, a face shield typically required 1.5 parts to be 3D printed, whereas face masks required 5 3D printed parts. However, by quantifying the print times, filament use, 3D printing costs, part dimensions, number of parts and total volume of each design, the wide variations within each product category could be tracked and evaluated. This data and objective analysis will help makers, manufacturers, regulatory bodies and researchers consolidate the 3D printing response to COVID-19 and optimise the ongoing strategy to combat supply chain shortages now and in future healthcare crises.

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Emerald Open Research

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© 2020 Novak JI and Loy J. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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Novak, JI; Loy, J, A quantitative analysis of 3D printed face shields and masks during COVID-19, Emerald Open Research, 2, pp. 42-42