Who we are
Shield LA is a group of passionate designers, engineers, organizers, and activists who share a common goal of making personal protective equipment (PPE) accessible for free to all first responders in this global pandemic.
We all know someone who is currently in the front lines, fighting against COVID-19. We want to ensure our loved ones are not afraid to do their job because of something as basic as a lack of PPE. Our team is made up of people with international backgrounds and we intend to not only service California but eventually cover the entire United States and other countries.
The massive shortage of PPE, exacerbated by the failure of our healthcare system has forced hospitals to seek help from the general public. When we saw this opportunity to make a tangible difference in the lives of these essential workers, we knew we had to act. Harnessing our team’s strong engineering and design background, we designed a face shield optimized for mass production. This precipitated a nonprofit initiative serving our community’s most vulnerable and dedicated individuals during these unprecedented times. Here, we hope to serve every grocery shopping clerk, nurse, doctor, phlebotomist, transporter, secretary, janitor, physician assistant, nurse practitioner, police officer, fireman, postal worker and many many more.
What it does
We created a design that can be mass produced at volumes of hundreds of thousands per day. Our shields are made at a fraction of the cost of shields in the market (that happen to be out of stock). This is achieved by making our shield of a single material and only utilizing one manufacturing process. Our shields are packaged flat and transported by the thousands, reducing shipping costs and minimizing our carbon footprint. Our intuitive design allows for efficient assembly - users are able to fold a single piece of plastic into a shield in less than one minute.
The shield provides 180 degree protection from ear to ear. The ergonomic shape allows the user to turn their head freely in any direction. This allows the user to look down at their patient without movement restrictions. Additionally, the top cover prevents droplets from entering above the user’s face, providing extra protection. The shield has a bridge on the top that adds rigidity to the overall structure and it is made from a thin piece of plastic making the shield lightweight and comfortable for the user.
How we built it
Design: Our simple and efficient 2D design only uses plastic, making it fully recyclable, reusable and reliable. The design is versatile with the ability of being manufactured through a multitude of processes, including: laser cutting, water jetting, CNC machining, die cutting and even a pair of scissors can produce a shield.
Materials: Raw plastic materials are in low supply and we have designed our shields to be versatile also from a raw material perspective. Any clear semi impact resistant plastics are usable. So far, we have been producing shields using medical grade PETG, PET, or Polycarbonate.
Shield LA is currently growing a network of fabricators and suppliers around the world to produce Mark19 shields and meet demand globally.
Challenges we ran into
Given the increased demand, there has been a global shortage of medical grade plastics. It has been challenging to identify suppliers for our raw materials. We also wanted to understand the full life cycle of our product so that it wouldn't simply end up in a landfill at the end of its use. We had to come up with a design that used a single recyclable material which could be easily repurposed.
Since our design is new, we are not an “approved medical vendor” and our product is not FDA approved, therefore we have not been able to supply certain hospitals despite their lack of PPE supply.
Accomplishments that we are proud of
In less than 4 days we were able to iterate through 16 prototypes and produce a design that was vetted intensely by several hospitals in the LA area. As of today we have mobilized large and small manufacturers globally to produce over 10,000 shields, of which we have already donated and delivered 3,104 to 21 different hospitals in Los Angeles, New York City, Miami, Switzerland, and San Francisco!
We have optimized our supply chain and logistics network to reduce the price per shield from $5 to $1.14 in less than two weeks. We now have the capacity to produce over 100,000 shields per day with funding being the absolute bottleneck.
What we learned
The demand is MUCH larger than we expected and requests to Shield LA are increasing every day.
Die cutting is a far superior method of fabrication compared to water-jet for our application because the final product does not require further cleaning once cut. This method of production therefore greatly reduces costs and makes the process significantly faster.
We learned a lot about human nature in the time of a crisis, especially the willingness to help the community. We have been impressed by how open the community has been so far in lending a helping hand. The efforts we have seen on our GoFundMe and through volunteer work have inspired us to keep pushing to serve those who need it most.
What's next for ShieldLA
All of ShieldLA’s future endeavors will naturally depend on our ability to raise funds. Here is a non-exhaustive list of short and medium term goals.
- Acquire FDA approval to make our design more accessible.
- Create a printable layout for DIY production of shields with scissors utilizing commercial off the shelf material from local hardware stores.
- Partner with current drone delivery companies such as Zipline and Google Wing to adapt our design to their drone packaging standards. This will extend our reach to remote hospitals and clinics in Rwanda, Ghana and many more hard to reach places in the world.
- Continue to innovate and break barriers in design and manufacture of standard PPE equipment.
- Foster a virtual incubator that will leverage the abilities and drive of our team to continue innovating beyond the COVID-19 crisis.