UCLA engineers build surgical face shields using 3D printers and laser cutters for health care workers amid pandemic

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A laser-cut face shield sits to the left of a 3D-printed model in a photo shared by UCLA on March 26, 2020.

A laser-cut face shield sits to the left of a 3D-printed model in a photo shared by UCLA on March 26, 2020.

Engineers at UCLA are a part of a growing team working to make protective equipment amid the COVID-19 pandemic, as L.A. health care workers voice concerns over a lack of supplies and equipment.

Jacob Schmidt, a bioengineering professor, has started to manufacture surgical face shields at the UCLA Innovation Lab on campus, the university said in a news release Thursday.

The space is typically used by students for class projects that require 3D printers, laser cutters and other tools, according to UCLA.

The shields are laser-cut from sheets of clear plastic and the head frames are 3D-printed.

The team can make 100 face shields per day with the current sample, which is being tested at the UCLA Medical Center and at other local hospitals, according to the press release.

Schmidt is a part of a growing team across UCLA, along with Doug Daniels, director of the Lux Labs at the UCLA Library, and other industry partners who have been asked to help in the effort, the university said.

“We are being forced to come up with improvised solutions to address the lack of traditional equipment and devices,” Schmidt said.

The lab is also working on designs that don’t require 3D-printing, and only involve laser-cutting, which could increase the production to more than 1,000 per day, according to UCLA. A sample 500 of this model are expected to arrive at UCLA Medical Center on Friday.

“We are also working closely with our colleagues at UCLA Health, the David Geffen School of Medicine and research groups across the engineering school,” Jayathi Murthy, dean of the engineering department, said. “Together, we hope to find a solution to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 and restore the health of our community.”

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