The worlds most efficient 3D printable face shield

3DPRINTUK develops the worlds most efficient sls 3d printed face shield design to help the demand for ppe and releases it for free

29th April 2020; London, UK: There has been a large scale response by the 3D printing community to the COVID-19 pandemic, with a giant effort to close the gap between supply and demand for PPE for front-line NHS workers. In recent weeks, some really clever and innovative designs have been released for people to produce but all have been designed and optimised for FDM printers.

Nick Allen, MD at 3DPRINTUK says, “From the very beginning of the COVID-19 crisis, in common with numerous other 3D printing companies, we analysed ways in which we could make useful interventions and help the efforts of the NHS.

“One thing we noticed was that many of the faceshield related designs were perfectly suited for FDM machines, but didn’t work well with the SLS process. As a company, we are intimately associate with SLS, and have printed over 2 million SLS prints, so we began to look at how we could optimise designs for the 3D printing technology that we use every day.”

What the team at 3DPRINTUK noticed when they looked, for example, at the amazingly well-designed and ground-breaking Prusa face shield design was that only 14 individual head bands could be printed on the EOS FORMIGA P110 SLS machine at a time. The team focussed on a design that the P110 could accommodate in much larger numbers. By nesting the main peak component inside one another they were able to create one that allowed for 260 to be printed in a single print with a 27-hour build time.

The key to the efficiency of the design is that they are printed in parts, allowing for much more tightly packed nest inside the build space.

Allen continues, “That is 6 minutes per shield, which is a game changer. The design that we created clips together in 10 seconds, uses silicone straps for adjustment, can take an acetate sheet with 3 holes, is lightweight at only 42 g, and is sterilisable with IPA, autoclave, or ethylene oxide (Et0). All in all, we believe that this is the most efficient visor design to produce via 3D printing available today.”

The face shield went through a least 10 different prototypes to reach the final design.

Features include:

  • 6 minutes print time per shield
  • clips together in 10 seconds,
  • silicone straps for adjustment
  • can take an acetate sheet with just 3 holes
  • lightweight design at only 42g
  • sterilise with IPA, autoclave, or ethylene oxide (Et0)

Additional design benefits include a closed peak design for extra protection, the material used (PA2200/Nylon 12) is biologically safe, and the shape has been designed so that it can be flat packed into an A4 envelope for cheap postage and storage.

Once the design was proved and validated, 3DPRINTUK had to look for partners to scale up production. In recent weeks, 3DPRINTUK has been directly involved with the UK Cabinet and manufacturers working on a number of large ventilator projects, which has taken up their own printing capacity. Information relating to the design was released, and the first facility to take on the manufacturing role was the Arts University Bournemouth (AUB) which had access to the P110 machine and also had laser cutting capabilities.

The AUB project has been sponsored by the Morgan Sindall Group

From the get-go, there was a great connection between the 3DPRINTUK and AUB teams, with AUB producing the initial batch of 5000 units and more thereafter. These shields will be distributed for free to front line key workers.

The Arts University has been spearheading an effort by educational institutions to manufacture and create vital protective equipment for the healthcare sector. Since its campus closure in March, the university’s facilities have become a production line for visors, facemasks, scrubs and gowns, which are being distributed across a range of public healthcare settings, including doctors’ surgeries, care homes, and volunteers providing door-to-door services for the elderly.

AUB Vice Chancellor Professor Paul Gough said: “We’re delighted to be involved with this vital project. Many AUB staff members have been involved; from our cutting-edge technical teams to our Innovation and Campus Services teams. AUB is honoured to play a part in the national drive to create and distribute life-saving apparatus, it’s so important that we’re all able to play our part during this global pandemic.

“As a specialist university, we firmly believe in the ways in which research and creativity can greatly improve productivity. In times like these, we’re challenged to rapidly innovate, and at such a crucial time, it’s hugely heartening to see those from across the creative industries maximising PPE production through design and collaboration.”

Allen concludes,

“We would invite anyone else with the SLS capacity to make the face shield to contact us and we will share the design data with them.”

“This has been a monumental effort from all involved, and I would personally like to thank Tom Preston, Fred Holdsworth, Eden Franham, Rhiannon Evens, Alex Greatwich, Lucy Devall, Paul Johnson, and Tom Marshall from the Arts University Bournemouth, and my colleagues at 3DPRINTUK, Jason Pereira, Joshua Wells, Chris Owen and Kirby Downey.

“We’re sad that we will not be able to manufacture many of them in house, but to see the project come to fruition and with such gracious and dedicated work from so many people is truly humbling.”

To read more about AUB’s production team, visit

File request: If you have SLS capacity and would like to make face shields, please fill in the form below and we will send you the files.

Your Name (required)

Your Email (required)


Your Message

Nick Allen
+44 (0)208 692 5208

PYL Associates Ltd
Rachel Park   t. +44(0)7515 741188          e.
Chris Young   t. +44 (0)7712 891070         e.


Arts University Bournemouth was first established in 1885 as a specialist art institution, and is now a leading University, offering high quality specialist education in art, design, media and performance across the creative industries.

Arts University Bournemouth is a top 50 UK university according to The Sunday Times Good University Guide, which ranks the institution as an arts university sector leader in areas of teaching quality, student experience, graduate prospects and degree completion.

Arts University Bournemouth is currently the UK’s number one specialist university for employability, according to The Times Higher Education’s Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) Metrics ranking.* AUB’s average graduate employment rate over the last five years is 97 per cent.**

* The 2017 TEF Metrics ranking compiled by Times Higher Education.
** The percentage of students in employment or undertaking further study according to DLHE 2012/13-2016/17.

Jonathan Beal
Senior Press Officer
07896 773908

Already have an .stl file?

Head over to our upload page for a free, automatic, no commitment quote!

Our new Uploading System takes the price breaks into consideration and is the fastest way to get a quote for your project.

Looking at SLS as an alternative to injection moulding?

Enter your tooling costs and quantity required into our low volume calculator and it will tell you at what point SLS is viable for production.