These considerations are mission critical and are applicable to any 3D printed PPE.
Evaluating materials with respect to sterilization methods is critical. Choice in materials can also greatly affect production capability and availability of supply.
Recommendation: for large scale production, evaluate common materials first, such as PLA or ABS, to ensure compatibility with the largest number of 3D printers in your area. If part of a coordinated effort, make sure you're all using the same material as that which your medical personnel have approved.
|Not all 3D printers can print with the same materials. The more common the material, the greater the number of available 3D printers that can be used for production. This is why ABS and PLA are strongly recommended to be the first material to be considered, regardless of which medical device is being evaluated.||Materials like PLA and ABS are in ready supply. More specialized materials, such as PETG, may be more difficult to procure in the quantities necessary to produce 25,000 face shields.|
Stringent requirements on the environment in which parts are produced will limit production capacity greatly.
Recommendation: prioritize development of post-production sterilization methods instead of during production. Develop industry and community partnerships to sufficiently increase production capacity.
Although possible to more strictly control the manufacturing environment at your own campus or institution, this may restrict availability of resources. Instead, priority should be given to evaluating the possibility of sterilizing equipment after the fact.
With the exception of medical device manufacturing companies that already use 3D printing techniques, it is not realistic to plan on sterilizing or otherwise maintaining sanitation standards on facilities that are not controlled by your institution. Furthermore, production of parts in the quantities that are required will necessitate making use of industry's production capacity.