Design Junior Working from Home Develops Low-Cost Face-Shield for Healthcare Workers


As the country and the world continues to deal with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, one of the many challenges facing healthcare workers is the ongoing scarcity of personal protection equipment. Davis Dunaway, a junior from Carnegie Mellon University’s School of Design, saw an opportunity to leverage his design education and is now attempting to aid the current situation by developing a fast and inexpensive face-shield for healthcare workers.

After speaking with fellow design students about the current situation, Dunaway experienced a level of frustration at the ideas that they were developing could not be brought to fruition quickly enough.

“The idea of designing UI mockups of proposed software or renders of hypothetical products to help people just didn't feel like they served an immediate need, particularly to those on the front line,” said Dunaway.

Dunaway noticed that Prusa had designed a 3D printed face-shield and began printing them on the 3D printers he had at home.

“Even though I hadn’t come up with a way to utilize my design skills in the current situation, I could at least utilize the resources I had at my disposal, but as I watched the face-shields print, I couldn't help but start to think of ways that they could be improved,” said Dunaway. “The production of this product that was so desperately needed was actually purely an industrial design problem.

“While I don’t have the bio-medical expertise to develop better respirators or the programming expertise to make a better online meeting platform, I am pretty handy with a XACTO knife and I found a problem where I was able to leverage my abilities to help people.”

Dunaway noticed that many of the current face-shield designs rely on a 3D printed headband that holds a sheet of mylar in place.

“The most popular model, the Prusa face-shield, takes 5 hours to print 1 headband and the process can be very error prone,” continued Dunaway. “Because of this, I wanted to explore the idea of creating the shield entirely out of a single sheet of mylar, as that would eliminate the need for any 3D printed components. The design has a total of 6 folds, 2 of which are specially curved in order to create a brim that serves to replace the 3D printed headband. With a X-ACTO, Scratch all, and straight edge, you can make one of these face shields in about 15 minutes.”

Dunaway has been in talks with Martin Culpepper from MIT who is working to mobilize the mass production of MIT’s face-shield. Dunaway is also working with several members of the team leading Carnegie Mellon University’s PPE production efforts as well as some local manufacturers. He is currently producing face-shields for GoHealth and Excela Health and he continues to find further opportunities to produce these face-shields on a much greater scale.

“I am definitely hoping to produce this face shield at a larger scale but no matter what happens I will continue to at least produce them on my own as well as make the plans publicly available for anyone who wants to make them,” added Dunaway.

More information on Carnegie Mellon University's Coronavirus response >>

Date Published: 
Thursday, April 30, 2020
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