MI Engineers Produce Face Shields Using 3D Printers

Posted Apr 30, 2020

Photo of various types of face coverings supplied for safetyIf you were to make a movie about the way the men and women of MI Windows’ engineering department responded to the COVID-19 pandemic, you could make a case for titling it, “Agents of Shield.” Of course, you’d probably be hearing from the lawyers at Marvel Comics, so that wouldn’t work.

It’s just as well, because MI’s engineering team members don’t think of themselves as superheroes: They just stepped up and made a great contribution to the company when the moment called for it. Specifically, they used 3D printers to create face shields that are attached to hats, helping to protect our team members from the virus while they’re working in our manufacturing facilities.

Photo of MI Windows innovative face shield“We first rolled this out to team members who had to work closer than six feet to one another to effectively do their job,” MI Vice President for Quality and Process Improvement Cristen Baca says, “including the truck loaders.”

However, the face shields are now offered to additional team members and is one of many options for face coverings that MI has provided.

“It is a great alternative to the cloth covering because it is easier to communicate and less cumbersome to keep over the face,” MI COO Mike DeSoto says. “We have also shared some with a couple of local builders and MI distributors. They are very comfortable on the job site.”

Team members first began wearing them in Pennsylvania on April 6. That same day, DeSoto and his team in Prescott Valley received the instructions on how to make them. Rafael Arellano, the safety manager at Prescott Valley, put a team together to assemble more face shields.

MI also got some help from a couple of local companies in Arizona. RESA Wearables, of Prescott, aided the effort by using rivet screws to make the brackets that connect the shield to the hat. To date, RESA has manufactured more than 1,000 brackets. And one of MI’s suppliers, Vinyl Visions, provided the polycarbonate material to make the shields.

Photo of MI's innovative engineers making face shields“Vinyl Visions’ owner, John Halle, loved the project,” DeSoto says. “He thought it was a good way to help MI and his other customers.”

“Some of our team is preferring hand-sewn custom face coverings for both comfort and to show off their bling,” he says. “One is not better than the other. It really depends on the type of work being performed.”

Baca explains, “They certainly take some time to get used to but our team members understand how important face coverings are for our safety. We successfully implemented personal protection equipment, in many cases, even ahead of government mandates. Our team members have done well with a lot of changes in a very short time frame.”

Covering our faces is just one of the many safety precautions our team is embracing. Additional types of safety measures that have taken place are: social distancing, enhanced cleaning and sanitizing, temperature checks using thermal imaging, and increased communications and announcements.

Visit our COVID-19 page for additional information regarding our response to the COVID-19 pandemic.