US Department of Navy (DoN) has started 3D printing medical face shields as the country steps up efforts to combat the Covid-19 outbreak.

Nine DoN commands began the initiative following a request from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Region VIII for additional protective gears.

FEMA and University of Colorado Anshutz approached the Marine Corps Advanced Manufacturing Operations Cell (AMOC), which in turn contacted the DoN distributed manufacturing network for face shields.

Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) Additive Manufacturing Integrated Program Team lead Liz McMichael said: “Our goal is to make the detailed manufacturing technical data packages for medical supplies and personal protective gear available so any agency can download and print them.

“Combating Covid-19 is an all hands effort, and we are honoured to be part of it.”

Assistant Secretary for the Navy (Research, Development and Acquisition) James F Geurts has also approved the initiative.

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As part of the plan, the navy and Marine Corps have partnered with national institute America Makes to combine government and commercial manufacturing capabilities.

The step is expected to create a stronger distribution network that can meet urgent supply requirements.

America Makes has also created a Covid-19 website to address medical supply shortages.

Center for Additive Manufacturing co-director Amela Sadagic said: “During the process we reached out to our local community and received the missing elements for the face shields.

“It was truly remarkable to see the network of people willing to help and support our mission. We are part of a large naval family and feel deeply connected with the local community that needs us now more than ever.”