Advanced Manufacturing pivots to face shields

The Advanced Manufacturing Team at University Machine Services, an ancillary service based in Western Engineering, shifted its normal operations to producing face shields for health-care workers combating COVID-19.

Editor’s note: Visit the official Western COVID-19 website for the latest campus updates.

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Western teams across campus are supporting production of low-cost, substantively effective medical face shields that could be in hospitals for health-care workers within days if not hours.

Face shields are vitally important to the global fight against COVID-19, as they extend the duration of surgical masks and help prevent potential spreading of the virus.

The Advanced Manufacturing team at University Machine Services, an ancillary service based in Western Engineering, is shearing and forming polycarbonate to create the shield. They then attach Velcro fasteners, designed and 3D-printed by the Physics and Astronomy Machine Shop, to the completed masks to allow for adjustable head placement.

University Machine Services provides services like lab-to-pilot scale laboratory equipment; computer numerical control machining; and 3D-modelling and printing (additive manufacturing) to Western faculty and staff, London Health Sciences Centre hospitals and other industry clients.

Special to Western NewsThe Advanced Manufacturing Team at University Machine Services, an ancillary service based in Western Engineering, shifted its normal operations to producing face shields for health-care workers combating COVID-19.

But when Andy Hrymak, Provost and Vice-President (Academic), asked Machine Services Manager Clayton Cook if his team could manufacture medical face shields, they didn’t hesitate flipping the switch.

Following a request from Kathryn Hibbert, Acting Dean of the Faculty of Education, Hrymak reached out to Cook on March 21. Previously, Hrymak served as Dean of Western Engineering and knew Cook and his team’s work well.

Machine Services had its first prototype ready on March 23.

“A few of our team members have spouses working at the hospital. This really hits close to home. This wasn’t a job we had to do, but when I mentioned it (to the team), everyone stepped up,” Cook said. “Western is an excellent place to work and these are great jobs. Now, the hospital needs us and Western is letting us get to work. It feels great to do our part.”

Cook collaborated with Engineering Dean Ken Coley and Schulich Medicine & Dentistry Acting Dean Davy Cheng for final production approvals and to ensure the shield met hospital standards.

Currently, Cook estimates the team could manufacture 200-300 medical face shields a day. However, a number of London manufacturers, including General Dynamics Land Systems Canada, a global aerospace and defence company, have already offered to assist Western with mass production as international demand increases daily.