Local initiative produces face shields for frontliners

Biji Biji, Me.reka and Taylor’s Me.reka Makerspace are collaborating to produce about 40,000 face shields per month for each hospital


THE world continues to face a critical shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE), and Malaysia has been experiencing the strain just as much as other nations.

Medical frontliners, police, military and hospital staff risk daily exposure to the Covid-19 virus. More often than not, most of them are working without sufficient protection.

To mitigate the issue, an innovative local group has come together to organise a decentralised production effort, in line with open-source principles to help with the supply of face shields.

Biji Biji Initiative is collaborating with alternative education space Me.reka and learning hub Taylor’s Me.reka Makerspace to produce face shields with an estimated need for this equipment of up to 40,000 units per month for each hospital.

According to a statement, the group has received requests from five public hospitals for 50,000 units of face shields.

The production plan will be based on the initial designs of the 3D printing community led by Nurfaiz Foat and Wan Cheng Huat from the Facebook group 3D Printing Malaysia Community for Covid-19.

“Subsequently, Mak Kwan Wuey from Makerzone Sdn Bhd and Fab-space KL, and She Tze Jin from Taylor’s University Me.reka Makerspace will work on improving the 3D printed design to evolve into a laser-cut version that is able to reduce the production time,” the statement read.

The group’s request for materials on social media has also received overwhelming response from various parties.

The materials requested include some 190 pieces of 4mm to 8mm acrylic sheets (4ft x 8ft) and about 30,000 0.2mm transparent and rigid A4 plastic sheets.

“We are actively seeking other larger production partners that are able to mobilise immediately and increase the production volume.

“Our target is to mobilise up to 10 machines around Kuala Lumpur (KL) and Selangor, and a further 10 machinesacrossMalaysiatoproduce up to 15,000 units this week,” it said.

A small laser cutter or laser engraver is able to produce eight pieces of face shields per hour, making 100 units per day, and a large machine can produce 40 pieces per hour, making 500 units per day.

The public can help by providing direct contacts for face shield manufacturers and plastic mould makers that can mobilise large-scale mask holders immediately.

“We are also looking for people who can provide a laser engraver, laser cutter, 3D printers or a production facility that can help with production at this time.”

“Public and corporate donations are welcomed. This can be done by purchasing the materials directly and sending them over to our production centres, or transferring money over to us to purchase the materials. All funds received will be disclosed publicly and accounted for,” the group said.

However, no public volunteers will be allowed to ensure the optimisation of production in a bid to curb the spreading of the virus.

As of Tuesday, some of the hospitals’ needs included 10,000 units each for KL Hospital, Sungai Buloh Hospital, Ampang Hospital and University of Malaya Medical Centre.

The production began on Monday at four locations namely Me.reka in Publika, KL; Taylor’s University Lakeside Campus, Selangor; Spectrum Laser Studio, Kepong, KL; and Admart Solutions, Muar, Johor.

For any information on the groups’ efforts or to donate, the public can visit https://mereka.my/ protecting-our-frontliners/, while updates will be posted on their social media pages.