The US Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division (NAWCAD) Lakehurst in New Jersey is using an additive manufacturing process to make face shields.

The 3D printing face shields are being manufactured to meet the request placed by the US Navy’s Mercy-class hospital ship USNS Comfort.

Currently stationed in New York City, the ship is helping ease the burden on local area hospitals while caring for coronavirus (Covid-19) patients.

A total of 500 face shields will be supplied by the air warfare centre. The additional units are for use by the ship’s personnel.

The first batch of 160 items have been produced and supplied in partnership with the Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) AM team. The total number will be delivered by this weekend.

NAWCAD Lakehurst executive director Kathleen Donnelly said: “The battle against Covid-19 is a team effort, and I can’t thank our team enough for their hard work and dedication to getting the USNS Comfort the equipment they need for this fight.

“We are in this together and will keep striving for solutions in providing personal protective equipment (PPE) to our local community.”

For this effort, NAWCAD Lakehurst had purchased 12 LulzBot TAZ Workhorses and a C02 laser cutter. The centre’s metal-based AM facility was also expanded to support PPE printing.

Team members are monitoring the printing process remotely through webcam from their homes.

The air warfare centre is using traditional manufacturing methods to design and produce ventilators, respirators, and PPE.

NAWCAD Lakehurst AM technology lead Kyle Cobb said: “It has been an extremely rewarding experience to leverage our industrial capabilities to respond to this global health crisis.

“I personally have many family members and friends who are military personnel, healthcare workers and first responders who are on the front line so I realise how important this effort is.”