Innovation That Matters

A Happy Shield instruction kit | Photo source Happy Shield

Reusable, origami-style face shield helps to fight COVID-19

Architecture & Design

Scientists have developed a face shield that can be made easily by folding a piece of clear plastic

Spotted: As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to spread around the globe, there is an increasingly urgent need for personal protective equipment (PPE) for healthcare and other key workers. Now, the University of Cambridge Centre for Natural Material Innovation and University of Queensland Folded Structures Lab have developed a reusable face shield created by folded a single flat sheet of clear plastic material.

The innovative “HappyShield” is created using “curved-crease origami,” in which a clear sheet of plastic is first creased and then folded to create the shield, visor and forehead rest from a single piece of plastic. When combined with a strap, a flat sheet is transformed into a three-dimensional barrier which is rigidly positioned at the right distance to provide space for goggles and a respirator underneath.

The simple design allows the shield to be created from any clear plastic sheet using a variety of methods, ranging from those requiring just a pair of scissors, a ruler, and a ballpoint pen, to those which use retooled die-cutting machines for mass production. The design also allows for easy cleaning and disinfection, reducing demand for disposable face shields.

The design is available for free, along with instructions and a video showing how to make a HappyShield using only materials found around the home. Michael Ramage, head of the Centre for Natural Material Innovation at the University of Cambridge, hopes that HappyShield could help in regions of the world where PPE is less readily available.

As the pandemic spreads, scientists, designers and engineers around the world have rushed to design cheaper and faster ways to manufacture protective equipment. From people sewing masks at home, to 3D-printed face shields, Mercedes-designed breathing aids and converting distilleries to hand sanitiser production, everyone is pitching in to help.

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