3D Printing Startup Fast Radius Starts Manufacturing COVID-19 Face Shields

by Gordon Gottsegen
April 7, 2020
Fast Radius Face Shield
Photo: Fast Radius

The COVID-19 pandemic has lead to a nationwide shortage in personal protective equipment (PPE). While federal and state governments are taking steps to address this shortage, private entities are also doing what they can to help.

Chicago-based manufacturing startup Fast Radius has taken it upon itself to use its technology to mass produce face shields for people on the frontlines battling COVID-19.

Fast Radius specializes in additive manufacturing, which is commonly referred to as 3D printing. The company has created the machinery and technology necessary to 3D print all sorts of shapes and parts out of plastics and metal. This process can be used to create things like tools, machine parts or even art installations. So when Fast Radius saw a chance to use its tech for good, the company jumped at the opportunity.

Fast Radius’ face shield consists of two major parts: a crown-like “halo” that sits at the wearer’s temple, and a plastic shield that blocks the wearer’s face. Because they are two separate parts, the plastic shield can be swapped in and out for sanitary reasons, while the “halo” can be used over and over again. The “halo” is also compatible with industry-standard PETG/PC shields.

But the true benefit is how easy these face shields are to create. Fast Radius has already sent out 1,500 face shield kits, but plans to ramp up its production to make up to 10,000 face shields a day. Fast Radius is also donating 250 of these kits to Chicago’s Swedish Hospital.

Aside from hospital workers, the company also envisions these face shields being used by people who work for fire departments, police departments, nursing homes or in any facility where people are interacting with groups of people. Organizations interested in acquiring these face shields can learn more on the Fast Radius face shield webpage.

“The global crisis demands a rapid response by the manufacturing industry, and Fast Radius is working with other companies and medical professionals to answer the call,” the startup’s CEO and co-founder Lou Rassey said in a statement. “Recent innovations in industrial additive manufacturing have increased our flexibility and response time, and we’re putting those to use for the public good.”

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