Shop staff creates face shields for area health care workers

Written by Ruth Wendlandt on Wed, 04/01/2020 - 10:53 |
Face shield prototype
Southwest Health approved the face shield prototype.

The University of Wisconsin-Platteville is partnering with a local hospital to help protect health care workers on the front lines of COVID-19. The College of Engineering, Mathematics and Science shop supervisors are using 3D printers to create face shields for medical professionals at Southwest Health.

On March 30, Southwest Health approved the prototype, and the design is now in production. According to the College of EMS Lab and Shop Director Paul Dorsey, the first order includes 50 face shields.

“We have all of the materials on campus,” said Dorsey. “We should be able to complete the order this week.”

To fulfill the request the four shop supervisors are working in shifts. There are three 3D printers between the two shops. They have also received an offer from Platteville High School to use their 3D printers.

“There are some 3D printed parts we have finished for the prototype, laser cut parts that are actually the face shield (the clear plastic) and the elastic band to hold it on,” said Dorsey. “There are three main parts that go to it. The 3D printed parts are the longest lead time to finish; it’s about three hours for one. The more printers we have, the faster we can get them out to people who need them.”

To keep with protective measures of self-distancing, the shops are staffed with one person at a time. “They are able to work isolated,” said Dorsey. “The finished product is boxed and sent to hospital staff. The hospital staff are following the same procedures they do with everything that’s coming in right now. They are disinfecting everything no matter where it’s from.”

Dorsey said it’s been a great team effort between Southwest Health and the shop staff. As the EMS shop supervisors go forward with the prototype, they are glad they can help make a difference in the community.

“They [Southwest Health] are very happy to receive these. They have been expecting to work without the correct protection. They have been gearing up to deal with that. Now having these in place gives them a lot better protection against accidental exposure with patients,” he said. “It’s nice to use something that’s normally used for instructional use to help out where we can.”

For more information about the face shield project, contact Paul Dorsey at dorseyp@uwplatt.edu.