Amazon announced it will begin mass producing face shields for medical professionals and plans to make hundreds of thousands available over the coming weeks on Amazon.com to bolster the nation’s supply of protective equipment for front-line workers.
Brad Porter, vice president and distinguished engineer leading Amazon’s robotics initiatives, said in a blog post that Amazon is confident it will be able to list these masks at almost a third of the cost of the reusable face shields currently available “because of the design innovations and the capabilities of our supply chain.”
Amazon will initially prioritize front-line workers for the face shields before eventually opening them up to all customers.
So far, Porter said Amazon has donated nearly 10,000 face shields and is on track to deliver 20,000 more in the coming weeks.
The face shields are a result of a collaboration between Prime Air design and hardware teams and 3D printing enthusiasts in Washington state who had already started to design and build their own face shields for front-line workers. Porter said engineers from Amazon’s drone team helped improve the original design.
“The upgrades they made were based on direct feedback from medical professionals—the team improved the quality of the materials to allow them to be reusable, added an enhanced snap feature to keep the shield in-place to make them safer, amended the geometry to reduce sharp edges that could snag clothing or hair, thinned the forehead band to reduce pressure on a person’s forehead and drastically improved print time, making them quicker to manufacture,” he said.
The design has since been approved by the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
Amazon repurposed its drone manufacturing facilities and is now working with outside vendors to produce the face shields.
“An example of this is how we’re using a machine that ordinarily cuts fiber materials to manufacture drones but is now being used to cut screens for the face shields,” Porter said.
Amazon has also made the face shields available via an open source license for 3D printing and injection molding.
“We are committed to leveraging our scale for good and putting our ability to innovate quickly into use to support communities,” Porter said.