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Manufacturing Engineering Department making face shields to supplement faculty protection this fall
July 16, 2020
Georgia Southern University faculty who want to add a layer of protection in the classroom during the COVID-19 pandemic will be able to do so with face shields made by the Manufacturing Engineering Department.
“Your first line of defense is obviously a mask, but putting a second barrier up can only help,” said Andrew Michaud, laboratory manager in the Manufacturing Engineering Department. “You might liken it to a castle with strong fortification walls, but some castles like to go the extra step and build a moat. Having that extra barrier is probably not a bad idea, especially for the folks who will see the greatest exposure level.”
Michaud said he was able to use multiple manufacturing technologies, including 3D printing, Computer Numerical Control (CNC) waterjet cutting and CNC laser cutting, to produce the face shields. The frames were either 3D printed or cut out of high density polyethylene. Michaud laser cut polyethylene terephthalate (PET) to make some of the transparent materials, but since PET is in short supply, he also used standard transparencies often found in overhead projectors.
“I really like the idea of using the transparencies because they’re readily available, and we already have plenty on hand,” Michaud said. “For the first batch I made 300, and we’re capable of producing about 40 units per hour as the need arises.”
Michaud and Daniel Cox, Ph.D., professor and founding chair of the Manufacturing Engineering Department, were involved in a project earlier this year to help the Medical College of Georgia at Augusta University with producing face shields, so Michaud was able to facilitate production seamlessly.
It is more cost-effective to buy face shields from high-volume manufacturers, but because they may be in high demand and lead times can be long, Cox said engineering faculty and staff are ready to help.
“The Manufacturing Engineering Department is willing and able to help throughout the pandemic and can readily make face shields to fill in any gaps in the supply chain that may occur due to any surge in demand,” he said.