The 57th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., started producing face shields March 30 to help the 99th Medical Group combat COVID-19.
Tech. Sgt. Matthew J. Bobbitt, is using four simple objects: a 3D printer, transparency film, rubber bands and clips, costing roughly $4 to print each face shield for healthcare workers on base.
“Our ability to overcome an adversary, such as COVID-19, is just like any other adversary,” said Bobbitt, a 57th AMXS resource adviser. “We have to adapt and overcome together to win.”
Bobbitt and his team came up with the idea while brainstorming ways to help fight COVID-19.
“The question came up of what we [in the Maintenance Group] can do to be able to help, so I began researching and found that face shields are the most effective personal protective equipment that can be currently produced,” said Bobbitt.
According to the National Institutes of Health, face shields guard the entire face from infectious airborne particles, substantially reducing the possibility of contamination.
Bobbitt found a plan for face shields on the NIH website, which allows anyone to download the software to produce the face shields.
He is manufacturing the face shields using a 3D printer, which is typically used to build items for aircraft maintenance, such as training aids or small parts.
One batch of three face shields can be produced every three hours with little supervision.
“The process to produce the face shields is very simple,” said Bobbitt. “We 3D print the shield’s headband, attach clear plastic transparency to the head band and then attach the strap that holds the face shield to the wearer’s head.”
So far, Bobbitt and his team have produced more than forty-five 3D printed face shield headbands and are aiming to create 400 total.
“Teamwork is very important during times like these because it allows us to share capabilities between various units to support each other to accomplish the mission,” said Bobbitt. “The 99th Medical Group supports us to keep aircraft flying, so it is our turn to support them when they need it most.”
To print the face shields yourself, you can find the NIH face shield plan at https://3dprint.nih.gov/discover/3dpx-013238.
Editor’s Note: This is the second installment in a five-part series highlighting Nellis heroes sustaining operations during the COVID-19 pandemic.