Amazon engineers develop face shields for frontline workers

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A team of Amazon engineers from its drone delivery unit worked with a group of 3D printing volunteers to develop reusable face shields for frontline workers, the company announced in a blog post Thursday.

Amazon Prime Air’s mechanical design and hardware teams adapted the design for the shields from the Washington State 3D Face Shield Hub, upgrading the shields to be more comfortable and the design more practical based on feedback from medical professionals. The new design, for instance, has fewer sharp corners that could snag on hair or clothing and a headband that reduces the amount of pressure on the user’s forehead.

“When you think of Amazon you don’t naturally think of hardware design,” Amazon vice president of robotics Brad Porter wrote in the blog post. “But many teams across the company specialize in this discipline.” The company repurposed its manufacturing facilities, Porter wrote, converting a machine normally used to cut material for making drones into one that cuts screens for the face shields.

Sales of the face shields will be restricted to frontline workers at first, Amazon said, but the company expects to sell them “at a significantly lower price” than others on the market, Porter wrote. The design has been approved by the National Institutes of Health and should be for sale on Amazon soon, the company said.

Amazon also produced an open-sourced design package for both 3D printing and injection molding to allow anyone with the equipment to make their own shields. The company says it has donated 10,000 shields already.

Amazon did not respond to an email from The Verge asking whether it planned to provide the face shields to its own workers. Many of Amazon’s warehouse workers have complained that they haven’t been given enough personal protective equipment to prevent the spread of the coronavirus in their workplaces.

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