Polytechnic University is to mass-produce reusable and affordable face shields for community use as part of Hong Kong’s fight against the coronavirus epidemic.
On Thursday, the university said it would roll out the first batch of 30,000 newly designed face shields in three weeks, for use by its staff and some students first, with the remaining being donated to several non-governmental organisations.
The new protective coverings, designed by the university’s 3D-printing lab, are expected to cost between HK$40 and HK$50 each.
Each can be reused up to 60 times after being cleaned with soapy water or alcohol disinfectant. Users will be able to eat or drink without the need to take off the face shield.
PolyU is to make two types of face shield, a universal one that will cover up to the forehead, and one with extra protection that covers part of the head. There will also be a smaller size available for children.
“After several attempts, we finally managed to find one Hong Kong manufacturer to produce these face shields in Shenzhen,” said Man Hau-chung, dean of the engineering faculty at the university.
“It will be up to the manufacturer to decide the actual volume of production based on the market demand.”
He said the university was in talks with the business sector to market the new products through retail channels.
Using the same 3D-printing technology, the university had earlier delivered 10,000 medical face shields to the Hospital Authority with production of up to 30,000 per day by the end of March for the city’s hospital workers.
Man emphasised that the new products did not need to comply with stringent medical standards as they were not medical face shields, and said they were intended for people’s general use so they could carry on their normal daily work.
“We expect the outbreak to last a long time so we need to think of a way to enable people from all walks of life to resume their normal daily life, with sufficient protection to reduce the risk of infection,” he said.
“After all, we cannot shut down our city or halt our daily activities forever.”
Tsang Yuen-kei, service head of the Hong Kong Christian Service, said the organisation had received positive feedback from frontline workers such as carers and cleaners who had tried the shields.
“Many workers have to do cleaning jobs without any protection,” she said. “With this face shield, they could do the cleaning comfortably while having certain protection from the infection. This is not just a face shield, it sends a message to them that many people are still concerned about their well-being.”