A few weeks ago, one of Novetta’s principal computer scientists (we’ll call him “Dave”) saw that John Saunders of Saunders Machine Works and NYC CNC was making badger shields on the fly and had an a-ha moment.
Badger shields are a type of personal protective equipment (PPE) used by healthcare professionals to defend against Coronavirus. They consist of a clear plastic shield covering the wearer’s whole face and a headband to secure it in place.
Saunders was using a laser cutter to create the clear PET sheets, but Dave reasoned he could use a computer numerical control router he had built in his basement to accomplish the task. He created a prototype, reached out to some other Novettans with family members in the medical field, and sent it out for QA (it passed).
The next step was figuring out how to move to production. Dave put together a team and after some trial and error, they nailed down their process:
Tape the edges of the sheets down with painters tape
Use rare earth magnets to hold down each shield
Cut the shield with an engraving bit
Doing this, they could cut 60 PET shields in 10 minutes. Then they were on to the padding and bands. The team used a bandsaw to cut the foam, setting up a fence at 9 inches and zipping through foam rolls. They affixed the foam to the cut shields, then measured, cut, and attached elastic headbands. Finally, they bag and tag the completed badger shield.
This simple process has churned out hundreds of face shields for healthcare professionals in the Northern Virginia area and exemplifies the ideals and problem-solving which Novetta values. While our focus usually involves code, deep analysis, and complex project management, Dave’s project highlights how sometimes our best work is just a guy in a basement with a good idea.