Soon after the coronavirus was first confirmed to have spread to Hong Kong, the Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QEH) and the Hospital Authority (HA) approached PolyU to explore solutions for the serious shortage of eye visors and face shields for frontline medical staff.
In view of the urgency, PolyU’s University Research Facility in 3D Printing (U3DP), Hong Kong’s largest research centre in 3D printing in terms of the range and quantity of facilities, and Industrial Centre (IC) immediately joined hands to take on the challenge. In just 10 days, they fabricated 500 reusable eye visor frames, and 200 single-use frames for QEH, using a highly resistant material.
At the same time, Professor H. C. Man, Cheng Yick-chi Chair Professor in Manufacturing Engineering, Dean of Faculty of Engineering and Director of U3DP, swiftly put together a team to design a face shield. Ir Sidney Wong, Engineering Manager (IC Additive Manufacturing Stream), coordinated the work between U3DP and IC, while Mr Tab Cheng, Senior Engineer at U3DP, took the lead in the design work. The team took six days to finalise the design after six iterations. The design leveraged PolyU School of Design’s study in the head sizes of Asians to design a face shield that would better fit Chinese wearers.
Making use of all of the 3D printers on campus, the team worked round the clock for 11 days to produce more than 1,800 face shields, providing enough for not only the HA, but also the Fire Services Department and the Government Logistics Department. By the end of February, a local manufacturer was engaged for the mass production of the PolyU face shield, ensuring the HA had a daily supply of 10,000 pieces, which rose to 30,000 by the end of March.
In preparation for the long battle against COVID-19, the team also designed and produced two types of low-cost reusable face shields, namely “General Use Face Shield” and “Extra Protection Face Shield”, for the PolyU community, non-profit organisations and the public. With the support of a local manufacturer, free samples were distributed to different NGOs, including Po Leung Kuk, Helping Hand, and St James’s Settlement. The team’s work also led to enquiries from 12 overseas parties seeking technical advice and production assistance.
The U3DP & IC team
Ir Professor H. C. Man (team leader) Director of U3DP
Mr Tab K. F. Cheng Senior Engineer
Mr Ngai Chi-hang Senior Engineer
Dr Zhang Yifan Engineer
Dr Esther Ma Associate Engineer
Mr Freddy Yuen Chun-fai Assistant Engineer
Ms Cheng Ka-po Senior Engineering Manager
Ir Dr C. C. Cheung Senior Engineering Manager
Ir Sidney Wong Wing-fai Engineering Manager
Mr Ho Kin-man Associate Engineer
Mr Paddy Cheong Kung-pan Assistant Engineer