“I wrote a post on LinkedIn saying that I was happy to help the hospital,” he recalls. The post read, in part, “In 24 hours we gathered the components needed for production. Tomorrow morning the face shields will be delivered to Caen.”
Moinat says his post generated 16,000 views—“definitely a first for me. That’s when I realized the serious lack of equipment in French hospitals.”
Thus was born Les Visières de l’Espoir (Face Shields of Hope), a fast-acting collaboration among some 30 French companies, hospitals and HP to print personal protective equipment (PPE) at a time when every hour makes a difference. After just one month, Moinat and his team had 3D printed almost 13,000 face shields.
An unprecedented collaboration
As soon as Moinat recognized the urgent need, he reached out to his partners at HP France for help. “They guaranteed us full assistance,” he says. HP agreed to provide the crucial PA-12 plastic powder for the shield’s brow piece, which can be sterilized, at cost. (The face shield itself is cut from sheets of clear plastic.) “The hospital told us they had received others made of an inferior plastic that could not be sterilized,” says Moinat.
Indeed, after the hospital performed rigorous tests on the PSHA face shields, they begged for more. “The materials used are perfectly suitable,” says Christophe Vildary, in charge of risk prevention at the hospital. “And the cold light helmet used by specialists fits perfectly over the face shields.”
After committing to supply the plastic powder for the face shields, HP helped publicize the project on French TV and radios, which in turn brought in more partners—everyone working at cost. Among the French companies now involved are cosmetics giant L’Oréal and Decathlon, the maker of athletic gear. The group effort also received ongoing organizational help from Martel at 3Dnatives.
Early on, Martel called Pierre Kraus, lab manager at Aereco Group, based in Collégien, east of Paris, which normally manufactures building ventilation systems. “When the lockdown began, I had already decided to design and print some hands-free door opening systems,” says Kraus. “Having seen the impact of 3D printing in the fight against disease in Italy, I had asked the company’s management in advance for approval to participate this way. They agreed immediately.”
When Martel told Kraus about Face Shields of Hope, Kraus swung into action.