Andhra Pradesh engineering student develops ingenious biodegradable face shield
In May 2021, a 21-year-old student of Mechanical Engineering at SRM University, Andhra Pradesh, Pabolu Mohan Aditya, was granted a design patent for a biodegradable face shield that costs just Rs. 15. The unique design claims to hit two birds with one stone. It is biodegradable as well as affordable for frontline workers who have meager incomes. Here's how the idea came to fruition.
Supply crunch, high demand had made protective equipment very costly
The Better India reported that in May 2020 when the country was braving the COVID-19 pandemic, Aditya noticed frontline professionals such as policemen in his neighborhood couldn't afford protective equipment despite working in high-risk environments. Aditya said he decided to do something about this since supply crunch and high demand had made basic protective equipment disproportionately expensive.
Face shields were proven effective but weren't environmental-friendly
At the time, research showed that while face shields paired with a mask were up to 98% effective in preventing the spread of COVID-19, around 3.4 billion single-use non-biodegradable face shields are discarded each day. Then, in April 2020, Aditya designed an eco-friendly prototype using CAD (computer-aided design) software that's taught to most engineering students.
Modular design ensures easy replacement of components, wearer comfort
The versatile design comprises a headband constructed using 3-ply corrugated cardboard, a transparent protective film made using 175-micron reusable plastic, and a reusable elastic headband. The cardboard headband is lightweight and designed to conform to the wearer's head shape while the elastic band ensures one size fits most wearers. The mechanism allows individual components to be replaced if they are worn or damaged.
Aditya leveraged CAD design, CNC machines to produce face shields
Aditya's ingenious design reportedly takes just two minutes to manufacture the face shield that costs only Rs. 15. In stark contrast, a conventional non-biodegradable single-use face shield costs around Rs. 150. With his family's help, he approached a local manufacturing facility for producing the mask. Aditya used his CAD-generated model to create code that can be interpreted by a CNC (computer numerically controlled) machine.
The youngster was granted a design patent in May 2021
The CNC machine was used to cut sheets of cardboard and transparent plastic with minimum wastage and high accuracy in the least possible time. Aditya has so far distributed the face shields to 500 cops and over 150 doctors in Guntur city. After filing for a design patent in June 2020, Aditya was granted the same for his face shield in May 2021.