RESEARCHERS FOCUS ON FACE SHIELDS DURING COVID-19 CRISIS

Assembled face shields in the I-Form Lab at UCD.

The SFI Research Centre for Advanced Manufacturing is producing 150 face shields daily for frontline staff working across the health service in Dublin, with Tallaght University Hospital and HSE COVID-19 testing centres among the first recipients to use these 3D printed goggles.

Since the start of April, the I-Form researchers based at UCD have focused on meeting immediate needs for PPE among health professionals in the fight against the spread of Coronavirus – starting with 3D printing of face shields.

The I-Form team, along with engineering colleagues at UCD, responded to a direct request for this particular item of PPE from Tallaght University Hospital, and have made and donated 300 face shields to the hospital.  

Dr Andrew Dickson, a post-doctoral researcher at I-Form, said that he and his colleagues at I-Form and UCD have produced and donated 600 face shields to date to frontline staff across Dublin, including 300 to Tallaght University Hospital.

I-Form Researcher Dr Heather O’Connor prints a face shield.

Prof Denis Dowling, Director of I-Form, said: “Additive manufacturing (3D printing) is a highly adaptable technology that can be quickly harnessed to meet immediate needs. It enables local production at relatively low cost. As an SFI Research Centre, we’re doing what we can to use our manufacturing expertise and infrastructure to help protect healthcare workers fighting COVID-19 on the frontline.”

I-Form is also donating face shields to HSE COVID-19 testing centres around the Greater Dublin Area, along with other hospitals in the city. Discussions are also underway with two nursing homes to provide this equipment. Other areas under investigation by researchers at I-Form include the production of protective goggles and ventilator-related technological aids.