Amazon is now mass-producing face shields for sale in the coming weeks. Hundreds of thousands of 3D-printed guards will be available online “at a significantly lower price” than other reusable options, the company boasted. Frontline workers will, of course, get first dibs.
What began as a small project by 3D printing enthusiasts in Washington State has grown into a massive Amazon initiative involving Prime Air’s mechanical design and hardware teams. Based on feedback from medical professionals, the company’s drone makers improved the quality of materials, added enhanced features, reduced issues, and improved print time. The new design received approval from the National Institute of Health.
“Making sure the shields could be produced quickly and at scale, we produced a detailed open-sourced design package for both 3D printing and injection molding,” Brad Porter, vice president and distinguished engineer of robotics at Amazon, wrote in a blog post. “This means that anyone, whether an individual or a large company, can access and manufacture frames for their community’s needs.” To date, Amazon has donated nearly 10,000 face shields and is on track to deliver 20,000 more “in the coming weeks.”
“It’s important that these critical supplies get to healthcare and government organizations and we want to help make that happen,” Porter said. “Whether that’s working with the open-source community, donating the shields, or selling these essential supplies. We are committed to leveraging our scale for good and putting our ability to innovate quickly into use to support communities.”
Amazon hasn’t backed down to the COVID-19 crisis, continuing to run its e-commerce operations—with additional sanitation measures and health checks in place. In March, founder and CEO Jeff Bezos announced that, despite lacking enough face masks to protect all warehouse employees and contractors, orders will still be fulfilled, albeit at a slower rate.