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The Naval Undersea Warfare Center (NUWC) Division Keyport has partnered with the US Navy’s Tech Bridge programme to manufacture face shields and personal protection equipment (PPE).

Under the collaboration, they have manufactured more than 500 face shields and PPE for first responders at two hospitals and naval commands in Washington.

This supports efforts by the US Department of Navy to 3D print face shields at multiple warfare centres and naval laboratories. The production is aimed at meeting the increased demand for protective equipment amidst the Covid-19 outbreak.

A request to help combat the virus by the Federal Emergency Management Agency was authorised by US Navy Research, Development and Acquisition assistant secretary James Geurts.

Office of Naval Research (ONR) technology-acceleration programmes director Richard Carlin said: “The naval workforce is playing an important role in the response to Covid-19.

“It’s critical that we help bolster industry’s capabilities, in order for first responders to do their jobs safely and effectively.”

A partnership has been formed between ONR, the Naval Expeditions Agility Office, the Navy’s Technology Transfer Program Office, and all naval systems commands.

Tech Bridges, along with warfare centres, government, academia and industry, teamed up to work on technology research, evaluation and commercialisation. The teams also continue to work on the economic and workforce development.

Upon learning about shortages in PPE, a team of engineers in NUWC Keyport’s Maintenance, Engineering and Industrial Operations Department refurbished protective equipment.

Sponsored by the Naval Innovative Science and Engineering programme, the manufacturing work was carried out using traditional methods and 3D printing.

The US Department of Defense laboratories were permitted to develop innovative, technological solutions to respond to the situation.

A similar collaboration is being sponsored by ONR among the Northwest Tech Bridge, NUWC Keyport and the University of Fairbanks in Alaska.

The initiatives in practice in Washington and Alaska are enabled by various other partnership agreements arranged by the Navy’s Technology Transfer Program Office, at ONR.