Shieldmakers began as a call to action from the administration of Rancho Los Amigos National Rehabilitation Center (RLANRC), an acute care comprehensive rehabilitation facility in Downey, California. In late March, engineering and clinical research staff at RLANRC were tasked to investigate ways to meet the dire shortage of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) facing the facility and others within the LA County Department of Health Services (LADHS) system, which is a group of 20+ hospitals and clinics in Southern California. After researching improvised PPE and their viability within a medical setting, face shields were deemed as one of the items that could be readily produced and safely utilized by frontline hospital staff.


The Orthotics department at RLANRC first created designs using materials and processes typically utilized for making braces for patients. The Orthotics staff led by director Chuck DuBourdieu were able to produce several hundred face shields which were sent into the supply chain. As the need grew to produce more face shields, research staff contacted the director of the Rancho Emerging Tech Lab (Andy Lin) to investigate the use of more rapid and scalable methods of production, most notably 3d printing. 


Mr. Lin contacted several ArtCenter College of Design product design students (James Gildea, Hon Li, and Tricia Sada) who he had previously collaborated with on projects. These students became integral members of the core leadership team for Shieldmakers, along with key clinical and research staff at RLANRC, led by Chuck DuBourdieu and Andy Lin. The effort quickly expanded to 30+ plus students and faculty as word of the project spread at ArtCenter.


The project team has carefully and methodically evaluated existing open source designs of face shields, testing for viability within a clinical setting, longevity, comfort, sterilization, and cost. After a comprehensive iteration process, Shieldmakers publicly released, on this website, several different designs which were optimized for 3 methods of production: 3d printing, silicone casting, and laser cutting. This site provides detailed instructions on the fabrication methods, in an effort to aid other makers around the globe in making face shields for their communities. Shieldmakers is also encouraging anybody who thinks they can help to get involved.


The Facts

As of April 18th, Shieldmakers has fabricated parts for more than 1,000 protective face shields for RLANRC and is on track to produce 5,000 within the next few weeks to help supply other LADHS facilities. Shieldmakers has built up the capacity to significantly scale up production within the past few days, with an anticipated output of 300-400 each day once running at full capacity. These face shields are being assembled and prepped for clinical use by volunteers and staff from RLANRC.


Shieldmakers has also directly or indirectly supplied face shields to Adventist Health, Huntington Hospital, Kaiser Permanente, Siloam Hospital, and other temporary COVID-19 hospitals, Jakarta, Indonesia (2,000 shields - outsourced design)



The Numbers


30+ ArtCenter students and faculty involved with Shieldmakers 

3 to 16 hours a day, per student, dedicated to working on the project

25 3D printers set up at RLANRC (~ 200+ parts per day)

Silicone casting process set up at RLANRC (~150+ parts per day)

5+ local partners including Monoprice, LA County Library, Supplyframe, and Smithgroup


In Conclusion

The primary mission of Shieldmakers is also its founding purpose: Fill the ever growing need for face shields for medical workers at Rancho Los Amigos National Rehabilitation Hospital and Los Angeles County Department of Health Services facilities. As they soon meet and exceed that need, they will be supplying more hospitals in the greater Los Angeles area. Concurrently, they are engaging and mobilizing the local community to join in their mission. They hope to be an example of how other communities, nationally and internationally, can unite in the common effort to do what they can, as well as provide the resources necessary to do so in regards to face shields.


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