The University of Idaho has devoted resources in various departments to produce personal protective equipment for health care workers as shortages of such gear have become commonplace with the onset of the coronavirus pandemic.

Major projects include face shields to protect workers from splatter and spray of coughing patients as well as surgical masks, which have either been 3D printed or sewn from cloth.

UI mechanical engineering professor Gabriel Potirniche, who is coordinating these projects, said the face shield is essentially a barrier made from transparent plastic that covers the face from forehead to chin and is mounted with a strap that goes around the head. He said the shield itself can be laser-cut from sheets of plastic, but other pieces of the design must be 3D printed, which is more time-consuming.

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