University of Waterloo Is 3D Printing Face Shield Components To Help Protect Front-line Medical Workers

Two University of Waterloo facilities have shifted their production focus to 3D-printed parts for face shields used by health-care workers battling COVID-19.

3D printers in the Multi-Scale Additive Manufacturing (MSAM) Laboratory and in the Print and Retail Solutions Department at the University are being used to build certified pieces of the protective equipment from a special material currently in short supply throughout the local medical community.

The University’s efforts build on the significant work of local entrepreneurs like InkSmith CEO Jeremy Hedges, whose company was recently certified by Health Canada to mass-produce protective shields for healthcare workers.

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Jerry Ratthapakdee, a MSAM lab technician, takes a completed headband out of a 3D printer in the University of Waterloo’s Multi-Scale Additive Manufacturing (MSAM) Laboratory.

Last week, Health Canada reached out to companies and institutions across the country to determine the number of 3D printers capable of creating required medical equipment, including parts required for the shields, worn over top of surgical masks for additional protection.

“Our lab quickly volunteered to help and we’re now part of a community group of companies and institutions that have banded together to provide free medical support and supplies,” said Ehsan Toyserkani, a mechanical and mechatronics engineering professor and research director of the MSAM lab.

“Our printers have been working 24/7 to help produce these necessary pieces of equipment,” said Ryan Jacobs, Director of Print and Retail Solutions. “We’re proud to be playing our part in supporting frontline health care workers.”