Amazon Prime Air team building coronavirus face shields

An Amazon engineer models one of the face shields being manufactured for frontline medical workers.

Amazon

A team of engineers from Amazon’s drone delivery unit is developing face shields that will soon go on sale on Amazon.com after a successful trial with healthcare professionals, the company announced on Thursday.

Prime Air’s mechanical and hardware design team members are leading the effort, which began in early March. After donating nearly 10,000 face shields to frontline medical workers for the coronavirus pandemic, the company is now poised to deliver 20,000 more in the coming weeks, said distinguished engineer Brad Porter and vice president of Amazon Robotics, in a blog. Publish.

The company plans to release hundreds of thousands of face masks online later this month, an Amazon spokesperson said.

“Due to the design innovations and capabilities of our supply chain, we are confident that we can list them at a price significantly lower than any other reusable face shield currently available to frontline workers,” said Porter .

Face shields are expected to cost a third of the price of reusable face shields currently on the market, the spokesperson said. A quick check of the prices for face shields on the Amazon website shows that they typically cost between $ 15 and $ 35.

Amazon will initially limit sales of face shields to front-line workers, but plans to open sales to the public in the future. The company declined to say whether face shields would be provided to workers at its distribution centers.

In the photo, 3D printed headbands for the face screens developed by Prime Air engineers.

Amazon

The Amazon team adapted the shields of an earlier model created by a group of 3D printing enthusiasts in Washington State. Together, Prime Air engineers and the 3D printing group have improved face shields to meet the needs of healthcare professionals by making them reusable and more comfortable. The National Institute of Health, an agency of the Department of Health and Human Services, approved the designs.

“The goal was to get something good that you would be comfortable putting on your face every day,” said Tom Luce, senior mechanical designer at Prime Air, in a corporate video.

Amazon was then able to manufacture the face shields on a large scale in manufacturing facilities managed by outside suppliers and on Prime Air machines which are usually used to cut fiber materials to make drones. Amazon is also releasing an open source design package so that anyone can make the face shields through 3D printing or injection molds.

The company used its extensive supply chain and distribution network in other ways during the coronavirus crisis. In April, Amazon launched a dedicated section of its website where hospitals and government agencies can request to receive essential items like protective gloves, face masks, face shields and thermometers, among other products. The company purchased some of these products from its millions of third-party sellers.

Amazon is not the only large tech company to bring significant resources to the fight against the epidemic. Last month, Apple and Google announced a partnership to help health officials find contacts on smartphones, Microsoft launched a “ plasmabot ” to encourage people who have recovered from the coronavirus to donate their plasma and Facebook’s Data for Good team has announced that it is developing tools for public health researchers to check if social distancing works.

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