DURHAM – A Duke University-led task force is working to ensure Duke Health and UNC Health do not experience a medical equipment supply shortage by using Duke’s 3D printing technology to create reusable medical face shields.
More than two dozen Duke nurses, graduate nursing students and medical professionals tested the 3D printed face shields in a simulation lab and determined they met safety standards and can be sanitized for re-use.
“It is an extra level of safety for the person who is dealing with a COVID patient or somebody who may have COVID, so it’s an extra barrier,” said Donna Crenshaw, executive director of Duke MEDx, the collaborative venture of the Duke School of Medicine and the Pratt School of Engineering.
The task force comprised of Duke engineers, medical and technology professionals spoke with health care workers to assess equipment priorities.
Duke is partnering with the nearby University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill on producing the face shields, which will be distributed at both Duke and UNC Health Systems.
Since the need is high for rapid turnout of the shields, Duke and UNC plan to turn the production of the final design over to manufacturing facilities, where thousands of shields will get created each day.
The first batch of shields is scheduled to be put in the hands of health care workers Friday afternoon.
When it became evident a reusable medical face shield would be helpful, the task force ran printing tests on about 100 different designs in Duke’s state-of-the-art 3D printing lab, equipped with more than five dozen printers.
After about a week, the task force landed on its prototype of a 3D printed headband that forms a face shield when attached to a laser-cut polycarbonate lens, which is a light weight piece of plastic with high-impact resistance.
“In the past couple of years we have assembled a very creative and capable team of engineers with extensive industry experience in medical device design, who have already been working closely with Duke clinicians,” said Ken Gall, associate dean for entrepreneurship at Duke Engineering and associate director of Duke MEDx. “Everyone has pivoted quickly to work with our Duke Health colleagues on COVID-19 solutions and support — as they identify needs, we are jumping on them to help.”