Startup develops multi-use face shields to increase European supply and decrease environmental impact of PPE

In response to global supply shortages of PPE (personal protective equipment), startup Shield48 has developed a decentralized supply chain that can manufacture over 20,000 multi-use face shields per day, and ship anywhere in Europe within 48 hours. Moreover, in contrast to most face shields that are single-use, Shield48 is reusable up to 300 times.

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The spread of the COVID-19 virus has led to a surge of single-use plastic waste, starting from PPE to individually-packaged foods. By inventing multi-use face shields, not only does it significantly reduce plastic waste, but also relieves strain on supply chains.

According to market data, the demand for face shields has increased more than 300 times. Seeing such a demand which will remain also in the “New Normal”, manufacturing single-use face shields and throwing tens of millions of them away every day worldwide is unsustainable. There is a better way to protect medical personnel and manufacture smart – focus on reusable face shields. That can save more than 70% of today’s expenses and reduce the waste by millions of tons of plastic” – Didzis Dejus, Founder of Shield48

Face shields are a plastic barrier that covers the face from the forehead to below the chin. Through providing wider coverage, it makes them a superior coverage option to cloth face masks alone, vital to continue day-to-day work for medical professionals, including GPs and dentists. They are also used by the private sector with personnel that requires interpersonal contact, such as cashiers, delivery people, factory workers, and agricultural employees.

Shield48 is a startup based in Latvia that grew out of a hackathon designed to meet the challenges created by the COVID-19 virus. Within the hackathon’s allotted 48 hours, the team developed a multi-use face shield prototype and validated it with the country’s leading epidemiologists.

By the end of the hackathon, Shield48 had an order for 10,000 face shields for medical professionals from the state to be fulfilled within 10 days. With support from various state institutions aiding in removing obstacles, from funding to diplomatic solutions for obtaining raw materials, the startup was able to not only fulfill the 10-day order, but is also now situated to manufacture 20,000+ face shields per day. These face shields, in turn, can be delivered anywhere in Europe within 48 hours.

During times of crisis when supply chains are under strain, it’s vitally important that products are developed not only quickly, but also understanding the end-users’ needs. Shield48 face shields are not only lightweight, repeatedly disinfectable, and thanks to the removable face screens, general practitioners have been using these face shields since the beginning of April and will be able to continue to do so.” – Ilze Aizsilniece, President of the Latvian Medical Association

The Shield48 team is made up of the team working at Baltic3D, a company with the largest 3D printing infrastructure in the Baltics. The team applied to the HackForce hackathon to understand how they can best put their knowledge and resources to good use during the COVID-19 crisis. Shields can be requested on the Shield48 website.