COVID-19: Rapid prototyping and production of face shields via flat, laser-cut, and 3D-printed models

Sean O'Connor*, Snehamol Mathew, Foram Dave, David Tormey, Una Parsons, Mel Gavin, Paul Mc Nama, Ruth Moran, Mark Rooney, Ross McMorrow, John Bartlett, Suresh C. Pillai

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


The use of personal protective equipment (PPE) has become essential to reduce the transmission of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) as it prevents the direct contact of body fluid aerosols expelled from carriers. However, many countries have reported critical supply shortages due to the spike in demand during the outbreak in 2020. One potential solution to ease pressure on conventional supply chains is the local fabrication of PPE, particularly face shields, due to their simplistic design. The purpose of this paper is to provide a research protocol and cost implications for the rapid development and manufacturing of face shields by individuals or companies with minimal equipment and materials. This article describes a best practice case study in which the establishment of a local manufacturing hub resulted in the swift production of 12,000 face shields over a seven-week period to meet PPE shortages in the North-West region of Ireland. Protocols and processes for the design, materials sourcing, prototyping, manufacturing, and distribution of face shields are described. Three types of face shields were designed and manufactured, including Flat, Laser-cut, and 3D-printed models. Of the models tested, the Flat model proved the most cost-effective (€0.51/unit), while the Laser-cut model was the most productive (245 units/day). The insights obtained from this study demonstrate the capacity for local voluntary workforces to be quickly mobilised in response to a healthcare emergency, such as the COVID-19 pandemic.

Original languageEnglish
Article number100452
JournalResults in Engineering
Publication statusPublished - Jun 1 2022


  • 3D-printing
  • COVID-19
  • Medical face shield
  • Micro-supply chains
  • Personal protective equipment (PPE)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Engineering


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