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Engineering offers a solution to the face shield shortage

Engineers at USF have designed a face shield that can be made in under a minute for under a dollar.

TAMPA, Fla. — With shortages of critical medical equipment around the country, organizations and companies are stepping up to fill the gap.

“When you enter a lab that was once bustling and see nothing going on there, you can’t help but wish you could do something," said senior research engineer at USF, Michael Celestin, Ph.D.

Celestin and his team have created a laser-cut face shield that is being used by medical professionals at Tampa General. They started iterating on open code around two weeks ago. At first, their shields could be made in three minutes. 

Now, the lab can make these face shields in under a minute and for under a dollar. And, they are becoming more efficient, each and every day.

“We found a way to optimize the laser cutter process so we can cut six face shields using the laser cutter in under 20 seconds," said Celestin. “With that type of production, the slowest process is loading and unloading the machine rather than the actual cutting operation.”

With critical supplies running low across the country, Celestin's team has been working nonstop.

"Whenever I ask my local medical contact at USF Health, how many of these units they need, basically their answer almost every time is as many as you can manufacture.”

The lab currently has enough material to make another 20,000 units. They are not going to stop there.  

"The longer we can keep our medical professionals from getting affected by this pandemic, the more people they can then impact," said Celestin.

All of these face masks are donated to USF Health and Tampa General. The source code for the laser cutter and other material has also been made open source so engineering teams across the country can mimic their results.

The material to make the masks have been purchased through the USF Giving page and by the College of Engineering Dean’s office.

RELATED: Florida business fights COVID-19 medical supply shortage, makes shields for first responders

RELATED: Shielding health care workers: University of Tampa's 'Fab Lab' makes face shields

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