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3D Printed Protective Face Shields - FAQs

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Last updated 4 years ago
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Where can I find more info about this project?

We have prepared a special microsite on our page and we are updating it regularly - see https://www.prusa3d.com/covid19.

Can I wear the face shield instead of a surgical mask or respirator?

No, the shield alone is not a replacement for a surgical mask or respirator. It should always be combined with a surgical or respirator due to the way the virus spreads. It’s also important to follow health and safety rules even when wearing one. The virus doesn’t spread through the air only, it can also be spread by touch, avoid touching your eyes/eyelids, etc. The visor can improve protection from viruses that spread through the air in the form of spray - e.g. sneezing. The shield can also help extend the use of other protective equipment by offering additional protection from external sources of contamination.

Are the shields single-use only? Can I disinfect/sterilize them?

Currently, we label the shields as single-use due to the fact that the tests are not finished yet on how to properly sterilize them. We have published an article covering various options for disinfecting the shields, however, the tests are still in progress. Exercise caution when wearing the shields for extended periods of time. We will continue to update the article with new results regularly. 

Are the shields approved by any authorities (e.g. Ministry of Health)?

We have consulted with the Czech Ministry of Health on our design for the shields and they allowed us to distribute them. The shield is suitable to be used by doctors and it is compatible with other parts of their standard equipment (like glasses and surgical masks) however, the shield is not an officially certified piece of medical equipment. Before you start producing them in your country, we suggest consulting it with local authorities first - the situation may be different in your country.

I would like to help produce these shields. How can I join?

You can check with your local 3D printing communities or visit https://www.prusaprinters.org/ and search for groups producing these masks.

Can I adjust the shield design?

Absolutely! The design is fully open-source. However, we recommend making only changes that were consulted with those who use these shields. The changes should be based on real-life experience, let’s say you try to make them more comfortable to wear, but they might start to fall off more easily during quick movements. Try to stick to changes that are practical and won’t have a negative effect on the basic functionality, in other words: something that looks good on paper might cause trouble in real life.

What are the changes between RC1, RC2, and RC3?

Generally speaking, we’re trying to make the 3D-printed parts safer, more comfortable and faster to print. These efforts are reflected in updated designs. See the details below: Version RC3 changelog changes from RC2:

  • Removed hexagonal holes for faster printing speeds.
  • With faster printing we use on our farm, some pieces had sharp points, and based on testing, the venting is not needed as much.
  • Several optimizations for stack printing.
  • New print files with 4 headbands stacked on top of each other - especially useful for overnight printing.

Version RC2 Changes from RC1:

  • Increased wall thickness (slightly stiffer and more durable).
  • Inner wall from 1.5 mm to 2 mm.
  • Outer wall from 2 mm to 2.5 mm.
  • The headband is no longer printed compressed. Lower pressure on the temple.
  • The visor was moved further away from the forehead. This allows a better fit over bigger respirators and protective goggles.
  • The printed part now has an extension for the visor (the visor curves less than the headband).

How long does it take to make one shield?

Depends on which version you decide to print. RC3 takes about 3 hours, RC3.1 takes 1 hour and 20 minutes - however, it requires a well-calibrated 3D printer and expect noises louder than usual due to high speeds. You can also fit more units on a single print sheet if it is big enough, so you can let it run overnight. Assembly takes just a few minutes, depending on how you source the visor (e.g. if you have them laser-cut from PETG sheets or you need to cut down PET bottles to make them).

I have a 3D printer, but no means to produce a transparent visor. What should I do?

You can get in touch with the rest of the community on social media or via PrusaPrinters.org and find someone in your area who has access to materials needed to make the visors.

Can I sell the shields?

Well, we won’t stop you, but it goes against the general idea of providing important protection equipment for free to those who need it the most: people in service who face the threat of COVID-19 on a daily basis while trying to help as many people as possible. Donating the shields for free also means a much faster (and direct) delivery - they won’t have to go through a purchase approval process normally required by the hospital management, which would waste precious time. If you need to recoup the costs of production, we recommend you consider a donation system.

Can I print them from PLA / other materials?

PETG is preferable due to its mechanical properties, it doesn’t break/shatter as easily as PLA and it has better temperature resistance. Since we need the headband to be slightly elastic, we would suggest sticking to PETG. Many sterilization procedures also consist of heating the shield to over 60°C (140+ degrees Fahrenheit) - PLA isn’t suitable for such temperatures. ASA and ABS are better alternatives than PLA if PETG isn't available.

Where can I get the transparent visor and the rubber band?

The shield design was made with simplicity in mind, so there are many ways to source the materials. The best way is to get laser-cut PETG sheets. Check your local hardware stores (online or by phone preferably) and see if they have a reasonable number in stock and deliver them to you. Another good option is a thick laminating foil that will hold shape and will put some resistance before it bends. The third option is to cut a large PET soda bottle. The rubber band is just a generic rubber band, available pretty much everywhere. The specs for the PETG sheets we’re using: clear PETG plastic sheet (Covestro Vivak brand) with a thickness of 0,5 - 0,8mm (common thickness in the US is 0.02"-0.04"). You can use any clear laser-cuttable plastic with a similar thickness. The size of the visor is 240×240 mm / 9.45’’×9.45’’ (standard version) and 240×310 mm / 9.45’’×12.2’’ (extended version). The holes can be made with a standard office puncher. For the exact dimensions of the sheet and holes, download the PDF files from the description of the shield at PrusaPrinters.org. You can follow the assembly guide here. The guide for an alternative version (using thick laminating foil) is available here. Please note that standard DINA4 / A-4 sized foils are not large enough.

Do I really need to print the lower part of the shield? It takes extra time

The “chin” is a vital structural part that holds the shape of the shield. We’re manufacturing 3.000 shields a day and it’s not enough, so we are of course looking for ways to speed up the production - however, removing the bottom part of the shield is not an option.

Can anyone use the shield? Medics, police officers, etc.

We suggest consulting first with those who might need a shield to see if it fits their requirements. In the Czech Republic, the shield is universally used by anyone in service or even by staff in stores and pharmacies, simply anywhere where people come into contact. There’s a good chance the situation will be the same in other countries. Always ask first, though.

I would rather print a respirator than a shield. Can I help this way?

Respirators are a different kind of thing. Generally, we’re very cautious when it comes to 3D-printed respirators. The problem is that the surface of 3D-printed objects is highly porous, there are gaps between layers and those areas are perfect hiding spots for germs. A vast majority of available filaments aren’t even food-safe. Plus, Covid-19 can apparently survive between 48-90 hours on plastics. Even though there are news stories about 3D-printed respirators online, they are not printed on home-grade FFF/FDM 3D printers. What you can produce on a common 3D printer is closer to a single-use mask. Some say that “something is better than nothing”, however, we recommend exercising with extreme caution. There’s nothing worse than a false feeling of safety and turning something meant to help into a source of potential infection. If you really want to make masks consider sewing a mask from fabric and use a 3D printer to print the shield.

Why should I follow any hygiene measures during production when the shields will be sterilized in the hospital anyway?

In situations like these, you can never be “too careful”. By exercising appropriate caution, you can help reduce potential risks, there might be people who will accidentally touch the shield before it gets to hospital or is sanitized.

What’s the point of making these shields? And aren’t respirators more important?

There’s a massive shortage of personal protective equipment worldwide. 3D printing communities across the world have the opportunity to put their machines to good use and provide medical workers, police officers, firemen, and many other people with a vital piece of equipment. Not everyone can work from home, there are thousands of people who have to be “out there”, risking their lives. Before the equipment gets to them from official places, all of us can step in and offer help. Respirators and masks are just a part of the proper protection. Your entire face should be protected, not just nose and mouth. The shield can also help extend the use of other protective equipment by offering additional protection from external sources of contamination. We’re very cautious about 3D-printing respirators due to the limits of 3D printing. However, the shield has been verified with the Czech Ministry of Health and even though it’s not medically certified, it does offer real protection. See “I would rather print a respirator than a shield. Can I help this way?” why we don’t recommend printing respirators with a standard FDM/FFF 3D printer.

How long does it take to get a shield if I order one now?

This is difficult to say. Over the past few days, we received orders for more than 100.000 shields in the Czech Republic alone and our production process allows us to manufacture and deliver around 3.000 units a day. However, we are running hundreds of 3D printers. Unfortunately, we don’t have the resources to ship to other countries. Talk to your local maker/3D printing communities, explain your situation and see how fast they react. It’s always better to find someone close by rather than having the shields shipped from the other side of the country. If you’re USA-based, you can use the #GetUsPPE hashtag on social media or visit https://getusppe.org/makers.

I know that within the Czech Republic you’re providing the shields to everyone in need free of charge. However, I would still like to make a donation.

We truly appreciate your generosity! At this moment, we’re evaluating possible options for donations that we would like to pass on to a trustworthy charity. Once a decision is made, we’ll inform the public through the usual channels. 

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