April 30, 2020

A Partnership with Rancho Los Amigos National Rehabilitation Center Results in Optimal Designs of Face Shields for Healthcare Workers

The rush is on to design, fabricate, and equip frontline medical workers with Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) as COVID-19 cases rise. Students from ArtCenter College of Design along with staff at Rancho Los Amigos National Rehabilitation Center (RLANRC) and the Rancho Research Institute (RRI) are working around the clock to design and fabricate face shields for hospitals in Los Angeles County.

“I’m inspired by this student activation and how they’ve applied their expertise to swiftly taking on a challenge that needs to be solved and work to help caregivers in Los Angeles,” said Chris Hacker, chair, Product Design department at ArtCenter College of Design. “Designers are more important now than ever, the passion and dedication our students bring to this crisis is vital to our community’s wellbeing.”

The project began in late March, as a call to action from the leadership of RLANRC to investigate making PPE, specifically face shields. After initial designs were produced using methods and materials traditionally used in orthotics, engineer Andy Lin reached out to ArtCenter College of Design students James Gildea, Hon Li and Tricia Sada, to help research, design and develop face shield production.

Working closely with Lin and Chuck DuBourdieu, the director of the Orthotics Department at RRI, a group of 30+ students are using their skills to iterate and refine designs that meet stringent hospital needs and requirements while also being readily scalable. The close collaboration between clinical and engineering staff at RLANRC and RRI with the ArtCenter students was critical in the development of appropriate, safe and effective designs.

Students took the initiative to launch a website, www.shieldmakers.org, as a resource for anyone who wants to get involved. Businesses or households with a 3D printer and the right materials are encouraged to join the project.

The goal is to expand the operation and generate more donations of materials in order to provide as many face shields as possible. The site, www.shieldmakers.org, provides RLANRC approved designs and instructions. Visitors select a fabrication method based on available equipment, including 3D printing and silicone casting.

Several local corporations have supplied funds, materials and volunteers to help boost production. Anyone willing to help is encouraged to visit the site to find out what is needed and how to become involved.

Shield Maker Facts:

As of April 30, 2020, the ArtCenter College of Design students and staff from RLANRC and RRI, known as Shield Makers, have fabricated more than 2000 shields for Los Angeles County hospitals.

Facilitated by one student’s global network, a manufacturer in Jakarta, Indonesia, has used the open source designs to make more than 2,000 protective for hospitals in that country.

The Numbers:

  • 2000 face shields created
  • Shield Makers is on track to produce 5,000 within the next few weeks
  • Anticipated output of 300 to 400 produced each day, once running at full capacity
  • 30+ ArtCenter College of Design students are dedicated to the Shield Makers project
  • 25 donated 3D printers are set up in a warehouse at Rancho Los Amigos National Rehabilitation Center producing 200+ parts per day
  • Silicone casting process set up at Rancho producing 150+ parts per day
  • 4 local partners Monoprice, Los Angeles County Library, Supplyframe, and Smithgroup
  • 3 to 16 hours a day, per person, dedicated to working on the project

About Rancho: As the only rehabilitation hospital in Los Angeles County's Department of Health Services, Rancho Los Amigos National Rehabilitation Center (RLANRC) serves a unique and vital role in patient recovery, rehabilitation and reintegration. The hospital specializes in brain, neurology, orthopedic, pediatric, spine injury, and stroke rehabilitation. Each year, the hospital provides care to approximately 4,000 inpatients and 71,000 outpatients, making it one of the largest rehabilitation centers in the nation. For more than two decades, RLANRC has ranked as one of the top rehabilitation hospitals in the United States by U.S. News and World Report.

About ArtCenter: Founded in 1930 and located in Pasadena, California, ArtCenter College of Design is a global leader in art and design education. ArtCenter offers 11 undergraduate and seven graduate degrees in a wide variety of industrial design disciplines as well as visual and applied arts. In addition to its top-ranked academic programs, the College also serves members of the Greater Los Angeles region through a highly regarded series of year-round educational programs for all ages and levels of experience. Renowned for both its ties to industry and its social impact initiatives, ArtCenter is the first design school to receive the United Nations’ Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) status. Throughout the College’s long and storied history, ArtCenter alumni have had a profound impact on popular culture, the way we live and important issues in our society.

About Rancho Research Institute : Established in 1956 to improve the quality of life for people with disabilities, Rancho Research Institute (RRI) is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization that administers medical research and educational programs at Rancho Los Amigos National Rehabilitation Center. With integrity and compassion, RRI is committed to the research work of RLANRC clinicians and to the welfare of the people served. RRI moves ever forward with this goal in mind: to provide a constant feed of new discovery for professionals and patients alike, and to help design new and positive outcomes for all people living with disability.

Media Contacts:

Rochessa Washington
Rancho Los Amigos National Rehabilitation Center
562 385-7602

Teri Bond
ArtCenter College of Design
626 396-2385

photo of health care workers wearing face shields
Rancho nurses (L to R) Joan Paguio, Austene Battung and Brian Vu wear Shield Makers face shields.
Photo of students making face shields for health care workers.
ArtCenter College of Design students (L to R) Hon Li, James Gildea and Sky Coppenrath in the Rancho Research Institute fabrication lab making Shield Makers face shields.