Bright minds pool resources to shield healthcare workers

Thursday, 23 April, 2020

Bright minds pool resources to shield healthcare workers

Researchers from the University of Wollongong (UOW) are pooling their resources and expertise to develop face shields for our healthcare professionals working at the frontlines of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The teams are using 3D printing technology to produce the face shields and working closely with the Illawarra Shoalhaven Local Health District to refine designs and produce prototypes for final testing at Wollongong Hospital. Research groups that make up the assembled team include experts from the ARC Centre of Excellence for Electromaterials Science (ACES), the Translational Research Initiative for Cellular Engineering and Printing (TRICEP) and UOW Makerspace. The researchers on this project are working towards scaling up production and, in collaboration with local industry, are working to produce hundreds of the shields per week.

“It turns out great minds think alike,” Professor Gordon Wallace, ACES/ANFF/TRICEP Director, said. “Our team at TRICEP, facilitated by ANFF, had been working on a 3D printed face shield design, when we were contacted by UOW Makerspace, who was working on a similar concept.” TRICEP is dedicated to the development of innovative 3D printing and fabrication technologies, drawing on expertise from within the ACES and elsewhere; while UOW Makerspace is a public creative space that seeks to provide ‘makers’ within the community with a brainstorming space, while also providing access to tools, equipment and training that will assist in bringing these ideas to life. This project, Professor Wallace said, demonstrates a true spirit of collaboration in times of crisis.

“We’re working towards a common goal and can move quickly, which is critical as face shields are in high demand, there is a great shortage of them and they are needed immediately,” Professor Wallace said. “In these unprecedented times, I’m impressed at how quickly people have come together.” UOW Makerspace Manager Jessica Grozdanov also highlighted the importance of initiatives such as this, which bring together innovative manufacturing facilities and medical institutions in the common goal of tackling community challenges, such as COVID-19. This project represents just one example of how universities and hospitals have come together with a consolidated approach that utilises resources in pursuit of research initiatives and outcomes that will help combat COVID-19.

“Over the past week, an open source design for a face shield that can be 3D printed has been circulated internationally. We have 3D printers available at the UOW Makerspace, which got us thinking whether our local hospitals could benefit from an initiative like this,” Grozdanov said. “Makerspaces and other innovative manufacturing initiatives are increasingly playing an important role in the response to crises, as we can respond quickly to a particular need and can offer innovative, local solutions in high-priority scenarios.” This team is also engaged in testing capabilities on a more sophisticated 3D printing design scale that includes prototyping components for ventilators — such as valves and splitters — in case the need should arise.

The team is currently calling on community-based makers with the capabilities to assist in producing 3D-printed face shields to register interest at If you require face shields, or for more information on the initiative, visit

Image credit: ©

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