Five graduates of the art and design school in Providence have turned their studios away from the production of clothes and furniture and into fabrication sites for personal protective equipment (PPE).
The alumni includes Providence textile artist Jungil Hong and Matt Muller, who runs design collective Pneuhaus. They have teamed up to create a face shield that comprises a curved vinyl cover and simple velcro strap to attach the device around the user's head.
The team said it aimed to create a simple design that can be reused and sanitised onsite. The velcro strap detaches from the shield so it can be disinfected in a bleach solution, while the vinyl cover is designed to lay down flat so it can be wiped clean.
"We can sustain our business and provide a product that's a quarter the price of what's out there because our design is so much simpler," Muller said. "We have the capacity to make between 1,500 and 3,000 shields per day once we get going."
In addition to making PPE, Hong and Muller are also working to distribute it to essential workers in the region.
"Complex loopholes make it hard for hospitals to do this critical purchasing," the team added. "So we're distributing shields and masks directly to health care providers, postal workers, housing and social services advocates and other essential workers across many fields in Rhode Island, Massachusetts, New York and Maine."
Co-principals of Brooklyn design consultancy Studio Den Den, George Coffin and Jillian Wiedenmayer, meanwhile are prototyping reusable 3D-printed face shields.
Coffin and Wiedenmayer are using the open-source files created by Swedish company 3DVerksta, which comprises a laser-cut shield and 3D-printed visor strap. The template is also being used by America architects like BIG, KPF and Handel Architects as part of an open-source project to create PPE.
As part of their process, Coffin and Wiedenmayer are sending completed designs to local health care facilities to test and get feedback on.
"We vetted these products for function, comfort and ease of production," the team said. "So far the prototypes are quite durable, offer flexible comfort, don't fog up much and fit well over goggles and masks."
The duo are also raising money to fund the production of reusable 3D-printed face shields they are giving to health care workers in New York City, which has reported over 100,0000 cases of Covid-19.
"We quickly saw how dire the situation was and it was glaringly obvious that we had the skills and the passion to meet the need," Wiedenmayer said.
Naomi Mishkin, who is now a New York fashion designer, is also working with local hospitals and her manufacturers on hospital-grade cloth masks. She has launched a series of Instagram workshops to teach viewers how to sew their own.
"It's really important for people to connect and add what they can to the conversation, rather than reinvent every wheel," Mishkin said.
The RISD alumni join a number of architects and designers also fabricating PPE and medical supplies to respond to the coronavirus outbreak. Massachusetts Institute of Technology researchers have begun mass-producing disposable shields for medical workers, while 3D-printer manufacturer Creality has created a buckle that makes wearing masks more comfortable.
Photography is courtesy of Rhode Island School of Design.