The University of Massachusetts Amherst
University of Massachusetts Amherst

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Engineers Lead Face Shield Design Team

Someone in personal protective equipment (PPE)

As the nation combats the spread of the coronavirus, a team of researchers at UMass Amherst has developed a design, informed by clinical feedback, for protective plastic face shields for health care workers and other front-line responders. The design can be made in seconds, is flat for easy storage, and is light weight for shipping.

Face shield team leaders Frank Sup and Meghan Huber of Mechanical and Industrial engineering say a variety of engineering, nursing and other researchers teamed up to meet the need. Huber says, “Given the number of requests we receive on a daily basis, we know the need is dire. They’re in crisis mode, that’s why we’re working so quickly.”

A Southbridge, Mass., company, K+K Thermoforming, is now producing the first order of 80,000 shields placed by the Face Shield COVID-19 Response Team at UMass Amherst. The company will continue production based on demand. UMass Amherst has contributed more than $30,000 for the initial order, as well as the hundreds of volunteer hours spent designing, testing, revising and manufacturing the shields.

Sup recalls, “We knew existing supply chains were not keeping up with demand and needed to turn to alternative manufacturing options for this emergency. We also knew that package manufacturing companies had the materials on hand that might be underutilized. We found these manufacturers could scale up the production of face shields in a matter of days to meet the vast and urgent need. All they needed was the design.” (April 2020)