May 12, 2020

At UNT, engineers and artists are working together to create face shields for faculty and students to use once laboratories on campus start to reopen.

“Our students and faculty follow strict safety protocols in our laboratories, which means they must use safety equipment such as masks, gloves, face shields, etc.,” says Mark McLellan, vice president for research and innovation. “But, as everyone knows, there is a shortage of certain equipment due to COVID-19. Fortunately, we have the tools and the talent to make our own.”

The College of Visual Arts and Design and the College of Engineering are working together to produce transparent face shields. To do this, the hard plastic part that fits around the head is created using additive manufacturing techniques at both colleges. Then, CVAD specialists laser-cut transparent plastic for the shield front and assemble the final product.

“CVAD and the College of Engineering can make and assemble about 30 face shields a day,” says Jenna Richards, the CVAD fabrication labs manager. “Our biggest obstacle turned out to be external. Other organizations are also starting to make their own face shields and masks, so the raw materials we need are often backordered.”

The plans for the face shields were found online, but had to be converted for 3D printing. Cesar Chavez, a doctoral student in the College of Engineering, added design improvements to the headpiece portion of the shield and included the UNT logo. Working with Bobby Grimes, the Department of Engineering Technology lab manager, they were able to begin fabricating the parts.

“We are a Tier One research university because we have the expertise, equipment and capability of tackling world-sized problems,” says McLellan. “I believe these and other efforts across campus to address problems resulting from COVID-19 show our researchers’ talents.”