3D-printed face shields protect COVID-19 first responders

In Uganda, Humanity & Inclusion has adapted its 3D-printing technology, normally used to produce orthotics as part of physical rehabilitation, to create protective face shields for health professionals on the front lines of the pandemic.

National shortage of PPE material

In March 2020, the Ugandan National Task Force on COVID-19 reported a significant shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE) for its front line staff and health workers. The task force requested donations from industry and organizations capable of producing locally-made PPE.

Adapting to the pandemic

3D Technician, Disan, took time recently to explain how Humanity & Inclusion adapted its projects to help meet the needs. "The shortage of face shields for medical responders, who were testing and treating COVID-19 patients in hospitals, was putting these brave individuals at risk and under great strain," he notes. "We sat down with our local partners, CORSU and Skymac, and designed a digital template for the 3D printers to follow, and a manufacturing process.

"The headband is the part of the face shield most suited to 3D printing. The plastic filament we use creates a lightweight, flexible and resistant object ready for assembly in just four-and-a-half hours.

"We donated our first batch of 50 face shields to the Ministry of Health National Task Force on COVID 19 in August. It was quite an important moment for me, personally, to see the skills I acquired during my training contribute to my country’s response to the crisis."          

Humanity & Inclusion will continue producing face shields alongside braces for its rehabilitation beneficiaries. The need for PPE is particularly high in the refugee settlements of Arua District, home to the organization's orthosis project.

Innovation prize

Humanity & Inclusion was awarded a European Innovation Council Horizon Prize of about $1 million in September 2020, for the organization's ground-breaking work using technology and tele-medicine for physical rehabilitation.

3D printing at Humanity & Inclusion

In 2019, Humanity & Inclusion launched an innovative project in northern Uganda using the latest 3D-scanning technology and 3D printers to create made-to-measure leg splints for refugees. You can learn more about the process here: link to video.


Photo: Disan (left), a Humanity & Inclusion 3D Technician, holds a finished, 3D-printed face shield, Uganda
© Humanity & Inclusion 2020