Faculty Members Use 3D Printing to Create Face Shields

As the effects of COVID-19 began to grip the Philadelphia area, Michele Marcolongo, PhD, professor and department head of Materials Science and Engineering, received an urgent call from the chair of Einstein Hospital emergency room, physician Dr. Betsy Dantner, MD. The hospital was confronting a critical shortage of face shields to protect hospital workers during patient intubation and was looking to engineers for a quick and effective solution.

Headshots of two faculty members
Dr. Michele Marcolongo (l) and Dr. Amy Throckmorton

Marcolongo teamed up with Amy Throckmorton, PhD, associate professor in the School of Biomedical Engineering, Science and Health Systems, and graduate student Bryan Ferrick, to use Drexel 3D printing resources to address the need. Within six days, they developed a 3D printed headband with a clear shield and foam padding that can be easily produced and assembled. A team of Drexel researchers is now harnessing the capacity of over 20 3D printers to provide shields to Einstein and is fielding requests from other area hospitals.

“Our efforts can play a critical role in stopping the spread of COVID-19 in a way that directly helps protect the people most vital to curbing its impact,” Marcolongo noted. “It’s been a wonderful show of community among our engineers and it’s gratifying to know we are making a difference.”

Along with tremendous support from Drexel University, the team has received generous donations from Home Depot, Lowe’s, and private donors for the project and is looking to scale up its efforts by partnering with manufacturers and distributors, with a goal of providing hospitals in the region thousands of face shields. Their efforts have been covered by local news outlets 6ABC and CBS3.

Face shields in a box
Face shields ready for shipping