Camosun College is stepping up to produce more than 9,000 face shields for Island Health workers on the frontline in the fight against COVID-19.
The college’s applied research and innovation arm, Camosun Innovates, has consulted with Island Health about a new face shield design that would be easier to mass produce, and takes an approach that does not require a 3D-printer. With these new designs, approximately 90 can be produced per day rather than 10 with a 3D-printer.
The project is led by director Richard Gale and applied research technologist Matthew Zelenay.
“Camosun Innovates exists to provide innovation for the public good,” Gale said in a statement. “We’re here to support the college, the community, and the entire country by bringing our expertise to bear on an immediate challenge, providing not just materials and products but strategic insights and design solutions for the industries that we serve. This collaboration is a perfect example of how Camosun College is responding to the current crisis by helping local business address a national need.”
After searching for open-source designs for a mask, Zelaney was not satisfied and consulted with Island Health and local manufacturer, AP Plastics, to create the new flat-pack design which forgoes the traditional plastic brow piece seen in traditional face shield models.
“I started with a speculative design and then took the specs required by Island Health and fit them to the manufacturing standards of the machines and materials we had available,” said Zeleny. “The shield is designed with a built-in buckle so it’s adjustable and compatible with a wide range of strap materials for the greatest flexibility in real-world conditions.”
The masks are being manufactured with high-quality polyethylene terephthalate (PETG), sourced by AP Plastics, and the production will begin this week at the college’s Interurban campus. In the meantime, AP Plastics will retool its facilities in Calgary so that the Camosun design can go into large-scale production for use throughout Canada.
The first run of shields will go to Island Health, with manufacturing beginning this week.
“We are grateful for the innovative work being done by Camosun College to develop face shields that meet the health system standards,” read a statement from Leah Hollins, Island Health board chair. “This partnership is an example of how community efforts and expertise can result in direct support for health care workers.”
After AP Plastics reconfigures its machinery, the company hopes to produce 4,000 face shields by the end of May.
“Everyone at Camosun has stepped up during the COVID-19 pandemic to support students, each other and the wider community,” says Sherri Bell, president of Camosun College. “The innovative work of the team at Camosun Innovates to support the needs of health care professionals with high-quality and effective face shields is an example of how we are all in this together. We expect that the new design and enhanced manufacturing process will support faster production methods to be replicated locally and across the country.”