Tue | Jun 2, 2020

COVID shield in the works - Jamaican engineer pitches 3D reusable protection

Published:Monday | March 30, 2020 | 12:12 AMJudana Murphy/Gleaner Writer
Shane Smith, contract developer at PreeLabs Limited, sports a face shield that could offer protection to Jamaican doctors on the front line.
Shane Smith, contract developer at PreeLabs Limited, sports a face shield that could offer protection to Jamaican doctors on the front line.

Locally produced 3D face shields could become available for healthcare workers who are on the front line of the unfolding COVID-19 crisis.

Jamaican authorities are seeking to ramp up the supply of gear for doctors and nurses, with the World Health Organization reporting that a “shortage of personal protective equipment is endangering health workers worldwide”.

CEO of technology company PreeLabs, Yekini Wallen-Bryan, has been developing two essential healthcare products over the last week.

It started out with a query about whether he knew how to make a ventilator and has since evolved into much more.

“I didn’t, but I said I’d look into it. I found that there are a number of individuals around the globe trying to supplement the overwhelming demand that exists in their respective countries, given that global supply chains are heavily disrupted,” he told The Gleaner.

In doing his research on ventilators, he found that face shields were in heavy demand “mainly because N95 masks are in short supply”.

Wallen-Bryan went through the process of testing existing designs and then made modifications.

He and his team have so far pitched the idea to the Ministry of Health and Wellness, which is mulling over the proposal.

The face shields, produced with a 3D printer, provide greater coverage than masks, are reusable, and can be sterilised before and after use.

The unit cost for a face shield is under $1,000, including material, commissioning printers, and labour.

He has generated a proof of concept for the emergency ventilator but said that he has some way to go in developing the electronic component.

“I have been invited to a lot of online discussions with international engineers and doctors who have been working different samples and providing their feedback,” Wallen-Bryan said.

“I’ve been learning from that, and it kinda speeds up the development process.”

Consultations are also being done with local doctors and anaesthesiologists.

The team is asking anyone with a 3D printer that could help ramp up production to email civiliansresponseja@gmail.com.

judana.murphy@gleanerjm.com