Columbus-based companies step up to 3D-print PPE face shields

April 1, 2020
Call for peers to help with 3D printing of equipment critical to combat COVID.

Columbus Advanced Manufacturing Systems (CAMS) is partnering with its customer, Rogue Fitness, in rapid production of reusable personal protective  equipment (PPE). The Rogue Fitness design team created an approved prototype in days and are in production of face shields. They are now recruiting others to join the effort.

“The need for more PPE to assist healthcare workers, first responders, is critical,” said Jeff Trevorrow, CEO of CAMS. “Additive manufacturing can supply the immediate need until longer-term solutions are established. But we need more companies to join the 3D printing effort.”

A component of the 3D-printed face shield.

Rogue Fitness, a manufacturer of fitness equipment, pivoted rapidly to developing 3D printable, reusable face shields as the crisis deepened. Working with a local hospital, it designed and printed an approved prototype within two days and immediately started 24/7 production using its single Markforged 3D printer. Last week, Rogue Fitness ordered five additional 3D printers for this effort, which were delivered the next day.

“People are stepping up all over the country,” Trevorrow said. “The trucker who delivered the additional printers drove all night when he heard that the printers were going to be used in immediate production of face shields.”

Additive manufacturing is ideal for addressing crises such as this because it enables direct CAD-to-print production of parts without the time spent creating tooling. In this specific case, the initial face-shield design was created, manufactured and shared with the hospital team within a 24-hour timeframe. Feedback from the medical teams identified some needed changes to meet their requirements. These changes were then implemented into a design iteration that resulted in final-approved face shields being delivered to the hospital the next day.

Although additive manufacturing cannot compare in speed to mass-production of injection-molded parts, it enables production to start during the weeks it takes to set up a traditional production line. With that in mind, the teams are developing tooling for injection molding of these parts where up to 4,000 per day can be produced. But while that is underway, additive manufacturing is filling the gap.

Calling 3D-printing partners

“If you have a 3D printer, with a build plate at least 5-3/4” (5.75”) x 7-5/8” (7.625”), you can print a face-shield brim,” Trevorrow said. “Please consider joining the effort and visit the web page below for further information, CAD data and more.”

The face shield design consists of three components: 3D printed brim, clear shield and an elastic strap. The brim is reusable after sterilization. The clear shield and strap are replaced after each use. 

“At CAMS, we are ‘all in’ for the Rogue Fitness vision,” Trevorrow said. “Our printers are also busy 24/7, and we are focused on getting the word out for other companies to participate. If you have a 3D printer, please step up and join the cause."

Learn more about this project here.