Fiber optics-manufacturer AFL has added face shields to its repertoire.
The Spartanburg-based manufacturer has already distributed more than 100 face shields to Spartanburg Regional Healthcare System’s Spartanburg Medical and Pelham Medical centers among other Upstate hospitals.
“We can’t thank AFL enough for its support,” Tony Kouskolekas, president of Spartanburg Regional’s Pelham Medical Center, said in a news release. “The outpouring of support we’ve received from the community has been truly inspiring.”
Kelvin Turner, an applications engineering manager at AFL, first felt compelled to turn the manufacturer’s attention to personal protective equipment production after hearing about the possible local shortage of N-95 masks from his mother, a nurse practitioner, according the release.
He then decided to take the next step and settled on face shields instead, as he could not find any local face shield distributors.
“Looking into both masks and face shields, I realized that face shields were faster to make and posed no health risk to the medical staff when wearing them,” Turner said in the release. “Additionally, face shields provide greater protection from exposure to bodily fluids.”
He and his team created a 3D-printed shield prototype within two days.
After review and approval from local doctors, AFL began printing the masks during breaks between regular production, according to the release, and expects to produce 1,000 face shields for local use.
ASA plastic forms the headband of the masks, while polycarbonate protects healthcare providers from exposure to the virus. Jon Potter, AFL’s commercial manager of conductor accessories, wanted to adjust strap production to make the shields more comfortable for health care providers who often have to layer several types of masks to keep themselves protected.
“Nurses’ ears are bleeding from wearing surgical masks on top of N-95 masks. These devices extend the straps, relieving pressure around the ears,” Potter said in the release.