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AUVSI: Robotic Research uses Engineering Expertise to Develop Reusable Face Sheilds for Healthcare Workers

The team of engineers at Robotic Research is using its engineering expertise to create reusable face shields for healthcare workers on the frontlines of the COVID-19 crisis.

The company says that it has created a unique design for reusable face shields and is providing them to healthcare teams in hospitals around the Greater Washington Metro area. They are currently being delivered to support teams at local hospitals in the Montgomery County area.

The face shields are being printed on standard industrial 3D printers at Robotic Research’s robotics engineering facility in Clarksburg, Maryland. Designed for comfort and protection, the face shields feature an improved disinfection process capability using materials that are compatible with the cleaning methods used at a hospital. Already approved for use in select departments, the design is currently under evaluation for broader use.

To support the production of approximately 2,000 face shields thus far, Robotic Research has sourced materials from across the country. The company has ambitions to boost production to approximately 500 shields a day, so it is seeking a grant through Montgomery County and the state of Maryland to facilitate this production.

“Our team wanted to help out in any way we could to support the local frontline health care providers who are working around the clock to assist those impacted by the COVID-19 public health crisis,” says Alberto Lacaze, president of Robotic Research.

“We are producing a face shield that modifies a design that is based off the blueprint provided by the National Institutes of Health. The design includes some enhancements to further protect from aerosol in the temple area, allow the masks to be cleaned and therefore reusable, as well as comfortable to wear over prolonged use.”

Robotic Research has also waived licensing fees globally to open up its patented design of its sterile 3D printer for any application of the printers related to fighting COVID-19. The company notes that materials used for polymer 3D printing are often damaged by the high temperatures, chemicals or radiation used in standard sterilization processes. To overcome this challenge, Robotic Research’s patented process uses a sterile chamber around a 3D printer where unsterilized plastic is brought into the chamber.

The printing process and package maintaining the sterile field sterilizes the possibly contaminated plastic. According to Robotic Research, this system was initially designed for a U.S. government agency to allow sterile medical materials to be printed at locations where commonly used sterilization methods might not be possible.

“Because this printer can create sterile materials, which are sterile from the inside out once produced, we are eliminating the need for hospitals to resterilize equipment before use,” Lacaze says.

“At a time when efficiency and supplies are critical, we hope this technology will be able to help alleviate some of the immense pressure hospitals and medical facilities are currently facing. It is our hope that providing the use of this process at no cost may help bring solutions to the health care teams working to save lives during this crisis.”