In response to the desperate need for more personal protection equipment (PPE) for health care workers, The UPS Foundation today announced support for shipping services for a University of Louisville project to create face shields by scaled manufacturing methods, including additive manufacturing (known as 3D printing) and injection molding.
The project by University of Louisville’s (UofL) Additive Manufacturing Institute of Science & Technology (AMIST) started with a goal of providing face shields to local Louisville hospitals and other first responders. The effort to assemble face shields using 3D printers (and later, injected molds) for some of the materials began with one small request in late March from health care workers at UofL Health: Would the Speed School be able to produce shields that could be worn over fabric masks that cover workers’ mouths and noses? Could they make 100?
Ed Tackett, who leads workforce development for the AMIST facility for Speed School, enthusiastically took on the challenge. He posted some pictures on social media and word got out quickly. By April 3, Tackett had orders for 30,000 face shields from as far away as Washington, New Jersey and New York City. By April 6, a small team of five volunteers had become 70 and four production lines had been set up at safe distances in the adjacent Engineering Garage. The lines can process 3,000 face shields a day.
“We’re grateful for the opportunity to support a project that will help doctors, nurses and others who are on the front lines of the pandemic crisis,” UPS Airlines President Brendan Canavan said. “It’s times like these when the spirit of our community comes through most strongly.”
To date, the project has produced approximately 5,500 face shields, from multiple sources. In addition to AMIST, additive manufacturer Fast Radius, located on UPS’s Louisville Supply Chain Solutions campus, and Robojockeys, a high school robotics team, also are producing the face shields and delivering to UofL for shipment. Injection molding capacity by Samtec and Grote Industries have nearly doubled output.
"Getting these face shields into the hands of our health care workers takes a team effort," said Neeli Bendapudi, president of the University of Louisville. "The spirit and ingenuity of our dedicated students, faculty and staff in the J.B. Speed School of Engineering combined with the compassion and dedication of UPS and our community partners is just what we need to get through this difficult time. Because of UPS and our partners, we are distributing these crucial pieces of PPE to health care workers as fast as we can."
The UPS Foundation provided support for shipping as well as connectivity to other UPS partners, customers and suppliers who have stepped forward to assist as well:
The UPS Store and Premier Packaging are providing shipping boxes and supplies.
Sealed Air is providing packing materials.
Samtec is supporting injection molding processes.
Grote Industries is retooling to support this effort and will enhance output allowing for double the amount of injection molded product to be produced.
With combined community effort, UofL estimates it will be able to produce and ship 5,000 face shields per day.