In light of the recent shortages of personal protective equipment in hospitals due to the COVID-19 crisis, University of Wisconsin employees joined forces to print custom face shields for the UW Hospital.

Director of the UW Division of Information Technology’s Digital Publishing and Printing Services Geoff Larson got the idea to print face shields when discussing the PPE shortage with his wife, according to UW News

DPPS has Wisconsin’s largest public, in-house printing operation, which means it has the production lines, equipment and an experienced team to design and produce protective equipment.

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Larson contacted the UW Health supply chain team to acquire the necessary supplies, and DPPS obtained a steady supply chain to allow for the continuous production of the face shields, according to UW News. 

UW Health first approved a prototype of the face shield. Then, DPPS began producing a minimum of 1,000 shields a day, in order to fulfill the UW Hospital’s request for 12,000 face shields.

DPPS is also collaborating with the UW Makerspace in order to get enough materials to secure access to these “Badger Shields” for medical providers across the country, according to UW News.

UW News reported that due to their large facility, DPPS employees are easily able to adhere to social distancing guidelines. There are a total of seven people working at a time to produce the face shields, each equipped with gloves and a face shield of their own for protection.

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According to UW News, other than employees supporting essential printing services, only workers who volunteered to help manufacture the face shields are working on this project.

“This is crisis mode. Everybody’s watching national television and they feel helpless,” Larson said to UW News. “What I’m hearing from our team is — ‘I’ll work any hours you want. I want to help however I can.’”

Now the face shields are being sent 2.5 miles away to the UW Hospital to help healthcare workers on the front lines. Though these are uncertain times, the workers at DPPS are happy to help local hospitals in any way they can.