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ISE joins fight against COVID-19

A collaboration between Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering (MAE) and ISE is underway to manufacture face shields as Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to help medical professionals in the fight against COVID-19. The project was started when MAE Professors Vish Subramaniam and Carlos Castro were approached by the Ohio State Wexner Medical Center (WMC) to help with a disruption of their PPE supply line. Subramaniam and Castro were leading a College of Engineering team set up to provide support to WMC.

Stacks of molded visors in front of the injection molding machine.The visor model was based on the Rogue Fitness design and was initially produced with MAE 3D printers by Kevin Wolf. It was soon realized that utilizing a 3D printing process was not fast enough to keep up with the amount of production necessary. Another disadvantage was the potential for porosity that is inherent with 3D printed products. Injection Molding was proven to be a more effective approach, as the daily production rate was significantly increased, as well as delivering an improved product quality. A rapid-design mold using aluminum was designed and machined by MAE Shop Supervisor Chad Bivens and installed in ISE Professor Jose Castro’s Injection Molding lab in Baker Systems.

Prof. Jose Castro and ISE Research Engineer, Dr. Matt Mulyana, evaluated required performance of the visors, selected material to be used, and developed process parameters for the molding operation. Castro and Mulyana were joined by ISE Machine/Manufacturing Lab Supervisor, Joshua Hassenzahl, and ISE Research Engineer, William Tullos, to produce the visors using the injection molding process using material provided by Castro’s research group.

Left to right: ISE graduate student Dan Zhang, Research Engineer Dr. Matt Mulyana and Professor Jose Castro donning the assembled face shields and maintaining a safe social distance.

By leveraging expertise in polymer processing and manufacturing, ISE has manufactured approximately 5000 visors and will continue supporting this effort to combat the pandemic.

“We are pleased to have been able to develop a manufacturing-ready process utilizing the same equipment used for our research as well as for teaching injection molding in our manufacturing courses. The process is comparable in speed and performance as what would have been done in an industrial setting. This was feasible due to our department experience in both polymer processing and manufacturing capability. Without our staff this could not have been possible.” Dr. Castro said.

It was a challenge to run the production while still following social distancing guidelines, but face shields have been delivered to Wexner Medical Center, Columbus Public Health and the Ohio State College of Dentistry since the end of March of this year.