In The News

Mansfield Library and UM Innovation Factory Partner to Create Face Shields for Missoula Physician

Maureen and Mike Mansfield Library and the Innovation Factory are collaborating to create face shields using laser cutting equipment and 3D printers for Missoula physician Patrick Archie. Archie, the medical director at Community Medical Center Cancer Center and a physician at Providence St. Patrick Hospital, reached out to the local 3D printing community requesting help to prepare supplementary personal protective equipment for frontline medical workers during the COVID-19 pandemic.

headbands for face shields on a Paw Print 3d printer

Why are face shields so important? Using a mask and goggles is not adequate for COVID-19 protection. There are gaps all around the goggles that expose the eyes and elsewhere.

Library staff member Glenn Kneebone coordinated efforts between the library and UM Innovation Factory and set up the 3D print files remotely. Blaine Belcher and Kevin Crowley, library personnel who are on site to support essential services and remote education, used the 3D printers in the library to print the shield components.
A corn-based polylactic acid (PLA) bioplastic was used for the headband and chin pieces. The clear plastic shields were produced by Professor Brad Allen. He used an industrial laser cutter to cut sheets of clear Polyethylene Terephthalate-Glycol-modified for the shield. All materials for printing were donated.

completed face shield

The shields consist of four pieces – a headband, a chin reinforcement piece, the shield and an elastic head strap. The clear shield snaps onto the headband, and the chin reinforcement piece snaps onto the bottom of the shield. An elastic strap to secure the shield to the head was the only component that was unable to be supplied for the project using the equipment on hand. 

Printing the components for each face shield took about four hours, and the material is suitable for sterilization at medical facilities. All components are delivered unassembled so that they could be properly sterilized before distribution to medical personnel who may need them. 


 In addition, ‘ear savers’ were printed using a different 3D printer at the library out of a strong and flexible nylon. These devices help distribute the pressure to the back of the head and off the ears from face masks. The strap of the mask is wrapped around the appropriate loop on each side of the device. The device is worn centered on the back of the head with the force of each strap being applied to the device evenly. Each print used minimal material and took about 25 minutes to print.

Teamwork and the use of innovative technology and expertise made the initial delivery of 20 face shields and 55 ear savers possible. Additional prints will continue in an effort to help protect the people who are helping others during the COVID19 pandemic.




Connections Past issues are available to view and download in ScholarWorks, the University of Montana's institutional repository.


The Mansfield Library faculty newsletter, SNMIPNUNTN Past issues are available to view and download in ScholarWorks, the University of Montana's institutional repository.