03 Apr UW–Madison publishing and printing team makes face shields to protect UW Hospital workers
Both concerned and restless, Leigh Larson (UW Health) and her husband Geoff began discussing the ominous headlines amid the nationwide shortage of personal protective equipment, or PPE, the three-letter acronym many Americans now know by heart. It’s what helps shield doctors, nurses and other health care workers from contracting the virus themselves.
Geoff’s thoughts turned to his recent UW Health medical appointments, when he was diagnosed with influenza A and pneumonia. Remembering when the doctor “masked up” and ran his tests, Geoff asked Leigh: “Was the face shield the doctor wore that day what you guys use?”
Bouncing quickly from his role as helpful husband to his day job as director of the UW–Madison Division of Information Technology’s Digital Publishing and Printing Services, Larson began making plans.
At its main campus production center, DPPS staff print and manufacture pretty much any printed materials the campus needs, from standard course packets, business cards and brochures, to building signs, banners and sheets of digitally-printed magnets.
The DPPS has since secured a reliable supply chain with distributors to support its ongoing production efforts. It already had a source for the sheets of clear acetate needed for the shields, which DPPS uses to make clear protective book covers for spiral bound books, and found another for the foam that rests on the shield wearer’s forehead.
After UW Health approved the prototype, the DPPS management team finalized preparation for production. With a request from UW Health to make 12,000 face shields as soon as possible, DPPS began efforts to produce a minimum of 1,000 shields a day.
In a serendipitous collaboration of Badger ingenuity, the DPPS team is coordinating with the UW Makerspace. In an effort led by Lennon Rodgers, director of the Engineering Design Innovation Lab, UW Makerspace is working with suppliers of raw materials and a broad range of private and public manufacturers of PPE devices so that medical providers across the country that need “Badger Shields” can get them.