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Initiative provides face shields for healthcare workers

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Eau Claire (WQOW) - The University of Eau Claire, along with help from Mayo Clinic Health System and a group of volunteers, is providing first responders with face shields as they help in the fight against COVID-19.

The shields are being produced with the help of 3D printing, something not commonly used in mass production. Volunteers, who are now working under the name Chippewa Valley Makers, provide the university with the 3D printed visors. From there plastic shields are attached by UW-EC volunteers, and then the finished shields are bagged up and made available to local healthcare facilities.

"The face shield covers the entire face, from the forehead down past the chin," says Ben Holmen, founder of Chippewa Valley Makers. "The importance of that is droplet control, it keeps droplets off the healthcare workers face. Not only does it protect their face, but it protects their N95 masks, since those are in short supply. So if a nurse is using their mask for a week, we can keep that mask cleaner."

The volunteers have been so impressed with the use of the 3D printers, they may even use them to help the community after the pandemic is over.

"What I've learned through this whole process is that when you're using the N95 masks, the fit is really what's important. How it fits to the face," says Dr. Doug Dunham, Director of Materials Science and Engineering Center at UW-Eau Claire. "Where 3D printing can come in is actually individually print the masks so it fits really well. Hopefully going forward in the next six months, after the pandemic is over, there will be time to address that issue."

For more information on how to help, or if you're in need of the face shields, visit www.chippewavalleymakers.com.

Rebecca Fiala

Rebecca Fiala joined the News 18 Sports Team in December 2018 as our weekend sports anchor and sports reporter.

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