FRCE manufactures 750 face shields for area essential workers

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Randall Lewis, Innovation Lab lead at the Naval Air Systems Command In-Service Support Center Fleet Support Team at Fleet Readiness Center East, compares a 3D-printed headband to the model used by the printer. Since mid-April, Lewis has led a volunteer team of engineers that has produced more than 1,250 face shields for first responders and essential personnel in the local area, including 750 delivered recently. (Photo by John Olmstead, Fleet Readiness Center East Public Affairs)

MARINE CORPS AIR STATION CHERRY POINT, N.C. (WNCT) When local agencies saw a need for protective face shields, Fleet Readiness Center East stepped up to answer the call.

A small team of FRCE engineers recently 3D printed, assembled and delivered more than 700 face shields to area medical professionals, first responders and educators.

This brings the total number of face shields manufactured by FRCE and distributed in the community to more than 1,250 since the initiative began in mid-April.

FRCE received the orders through the “America Makes Responds” web portal.

The portal is an initiative put forth by America Makes, the National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Institute, in conjunction with the National Institutes of Health, Food and Drug Administration, and Veterans Administration.

It collects submissions from organizations in need of medical PPE, manufacturers with 3D printing capabilities, and designers willing to share 3D designs.

The face shields took about three weeks to make, Lewis said. He and Ken Murphy, an engineering technician with the FST’s Aircraft Technology Team, printed the headbands, processed them to remove any burrs or rough edges, sanitized the product in accordance with FDA guidelines, and packaged them with an adjustable strap.

Recent upgrades to equipment in the Innovation Lab helped speed up the manufacturing process.

Changes in the face shield design also helped cut production time.

While the first sets of face shields manufactured at FRCE used polyethylene terephthalate glycol sheets for the shield, the new plans call for acetate – the office supply commonly referred to as a transparency.

Where the old material came in large sheets that FRCE’s production team had to cut using a water knife, the new acetate sheets come ready to mount.

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