How a Simple 3D-Printing Template Became 240,000 Face Masks

June 29, 2020 Maria Burkanova

Creative, and above all, quick solutions are particularly important in times of crisis and uncertainty, and when it comes to speed and creativity, 3d-printing checks all of these boxes. So once again, Prusa Research—a pioneer in the field of FDM printing—decided to step up during a crisis by developing a design for 3D printed face protectors and making it available completely for free for manufacturers and printers—visit them here.

The concept behind the Prusa face-shield is simple but smart: an easy-to-cut plastic sheet is clamped into the individually adjustable plastic ring that is placed atop the head. The adjustable plastic ring is manufactured via the filament layer process and the transparent plastic sheet is available in every stationery store, if you do not have one already. Together, this creates an adjustable face-shield that when combined with a respirator mask, provides additional droplet protection and reduces the risk of infection.

3d-printing face-shield components

The international network for industrial 3D printing called upon its members to help manufacture Prusa face-shields and to donate them to non-profit organizations. Heeding this call, our engineers immediately agreed to make our 3D printers available and set about creating the first round of Prusa face-sheilds.

However, after we started producing batches, we began to feel something: that we could do more! After all, we are injection-molding experts, and with our newly remodeled production tools, we could produce special parts a lot faster. The proper injection-molding tool was quickly produced from the 3D print design in just six days, and mass production of the face-shields began in less than a week. 

3D printing team leader Tom Krause assesses the first face-shields together with Dr. Thilo Schultes (tool-making) and employees at our HQ in Germany.

Today, children across the globe are equipped with these igus-produced Prusa face-shields, and many more will continue to be produced, especially as we keep an eye on the current health situation throughout the summer. 

3D printed prototypes from Prusa & injection molded models from igus® (of course, in the always stunning igus® orange)

So, what did we learn from this experience? That 3D printing is the ideal manufacturing method when trying to quickly transform ideas into working solutions that can be available to everyone around the world. However, we also found that when it comes to manufacturing larger quantities of products, 3D printing and injection molding working together in tandem enables the rapid production of large batches, which not only can play a decisive role in a global crisis, but also in the everyday competition of the industrial sector.

Interested in having your prototype 3d printed from high-wear materials? Visit our 3-D Printing Service here.

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