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The Lab is Making Face Shields

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The Octavia Lab is working with local medical staff and members of the maker community to produce face shields that front line medical professionals can use. The lab is working closely with members of the maker community to find supplies, troubleshoot manufacturing issues, and make the best personal protective equipment (PPE) that we can. Other libraries have offered their support, research, and resources to help. After several prototypes, the lab is focused on 3D printing and assembling face shields based on the Prusa face shield, with laser cut or waterjet cut transparent plastic fronts, foam on the head band from comfort, and elastic straps.


3D printing

We are 3D printing face shield components with PLA filament.

If you have a 3D printer and want to help, email us at octavialab@lapl.org for more information.


Waterjet Cutting

The Lab is partnering with LACI to cut face shields out PETG plastic using a waterjet cutter.

If you have access to a laser cutter, waterjet cutter, or sheets of PETG plastic, you can help. Email us for more information.


Donations and Ways to Help

The Lab accepts donations. Email us for more information.

  • Elastic: Keeps the face shields secure on the head.

  • Foam: Keep the face shield comfortable for the several hours it is worn.

  • PLA: This is the material our 3D printers use. There are two sizes: 1.75mm and 2.85mm.

  • PETG: The face shield itself is made from sheets of this clear, see-through plastic.

The more face shields we can deliver to medical workers, the better off all of Los Angeles will be. If you have materials to donate or questions about materials, email us.


Frequently Asked Questions About the Shield Design

The Octavia Lab started to work on creating PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) for local medical staff as soon as we became aware of the need. However, the Octavia Lab staff are neither medical professionals nor manufacturing engineers. So in order to find the PPE that would best fit the needs of Los Angelenos, our materials, our equipment, and our manufacturing knowledge we turned to the professionals.

Why are you making this design?

We started working with The Advanced Prototyping Center at the Los Angeles Cleantech Incubator (LACI.org) to find a face shield design that was feasible to produce with the lab’s limited supplies, equipment, and staffing. At that time, there were makers producing shields and making those files publicly available. We wanted to make sure that anything the lab made would be acceptable to the local hospitals. The lab reached out to local hospitals and asked for their input. LACI helped the lab make modifications to the original designs to address the medical staff’s concerns and received formal approval from hospital administration for use.

Why are you printing in PLA?

PLA is a type of 3D printer filament. It is the filament we can most easily get, it is acceptable to the hospitals we are supplying, and it works with our equipment. Printing in materials other than PLA, requires a great deal of ventilation. The Octavia Lab’s current ventilation does not allow us to print using other filament.

Why aren’t you printing ventilator valves?

Ventilator valves were too complicated for us to produce effectively.

Why aren’t you making N95 masks?

Although several 3D printed versions of N95 masks exist, it is important that an N95 mask fits the person wearing it very well. Given the lab’s equipment, we did not think that we could successfully print a N95 mask that would fit well enough to be effective.

What are the benefits of your design?

  • The design we are using is stackable, so that multiple headgear can be printed at once.
  • The design has fewer gaps then earlier models and a closed top, to prevent droplets from slipping around the sides of the shield.
  • The shape of the print allows for the addition of foam, for the comfort of the wearer.
  • The face shields are durable enough to be reused, provided that they are cleaned.
  • The face shields are made from materials we have, thus far, been able to procure.
  • This design conserves filament, meaning that we can print more face shields with the same supplies.
  • The design we are using has been accepted by local hospitals that are serving a large portion of the population and are in need of supplies.

I heard a different design is better, why not make that design?

The Coronavirus pandemic is a rapidly evolving situation. Things are changing all the time and all of us are doing our best to keep up. We have reached out to medical professionals in our local community, and provided them with several different options. Some models proved to be inefficient in terms of the amount of materials they require to produce. Other models did not meet our partners' needs. These considerations led us to choose the model we are currently producing. But the situation might change.

If I have another, better design, how can I tell you about it?

If you have information about makerspace produced PPE that would help us, please let us know. Keep in mind that even the best design would have to be accepted by the hospitals we are donating to, and that would take time, even in ideal circumstances. A new design might also take materials we have trouble getting. But we appreciate your passion and enthusiasm for this project and would love to hear from you.

I have a 3D printer, can I help?

Yes! Drop us an email and we’ll get in touch with you.

I don’t have a 3D printer, but still want to help. What can I do?

We greatly appreciate your willingness to help. If you wish to help the LAPL PPE face shield effort, by all means send us an email. There are ways you can help us beyond printing shields. If you are looking to help a broader effort, we urge you to consider supporting the City’s Response to COVID-19.

Above all else, continue to follow guidance from the healthcare community:

  • Practice social distancing.
  • Wash your hands.
  • Be safe.

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