The COVID-19 pandemic has thrown life out of gear across the world. Our frontline workers, who have been relentlessly fighting on the ground and striving to make life easier for use during this lockdown, are the most vulnerable ones. The question of their safety while serving others still remains.
Keeping the same in mind, Maker's Asylum, an innovation hub based out of Mumbai has been manufacturing face shields for doctors, police personnel, and other frontline workers who are exposed to the risk of COVID-19. Just as the lockdown was announced, they started researching on different methods of producing masks quickly, and came up with the 'M-19' face shield design.
After considering the opinions of healthcare professionals and exhaustive research on a number of designs, they finally came up with something which was not just low-priced but also reusable in nature.
Volunteers at the Makers Asylum innovation hub, Andheri, Mumbai
The supply shortage of (personal protective equipment) for the health care workers led Vaibhav Chhabra, the founder of Maker's Asylum, came up with the innovative face shield so that the exposure faced by frontline workers could be reduced. Choosing the laser cutting technique allowed him to fasten up the manufacturing process, and his team was able to produce a substantial number of masks within the first few days.
Initially, they started a Ketto fundraiser and aimed at supplying 10,000 face shields to meet the shortage of the demand. But after the overwhelming response which they received within the first few weeks, they scaled up their process and connected with other community members in order to supply in other towns or cities. Till now, they have shared nearly five lakh masks across 38 cities, towns, and villages.
Handing out the face shields to police personnel by the team
In a conversation with The Logical Indian, Vaibhav Chabra, founder of Maker's Asylum said, "The equipment required for manufacturing was at our disposal at the maker's space. We started researching on various prototypes right after the lockdown. We anticipated a surge in demands as it was unclear when will the situation get under control. After creating the initial design itineration, we had sent it to hospitals for testing as in case of personal protective equipment's (PPE's), there are standard guidelines which had to be followed. One thing that we have always boiled down to is the accessibility of the face shield 'M-19' that could be possible with low cost so that we would be able to fill this demand/supply gap."
Richa Shrivastava, managing partner at the Makers Asylum handling the distribution of manufactured shields
When they started working on this idea, they did not think that it would be scalable to this extent and they would be able to help healthcare professionals, policemen, sanitation workers fight against this pandemic with their innovation.
This has been possible with the tireless efforts of the volunteers at Maker's Asylum who have been working 10-11 hours a day to meet the shortage of face shields, confirms Richa Shrivastava, managing partner at the innovation hub. She also shares that reusability of the mask is an important aspect of 'M-19' face shields as these could be worn again after cleaning. It would bring down the waste generated out of the increased usage of face masks.
The face shields being worn by Mumbai traffic people at work
Talking further about their work, Vaibhav says, "The transportation restriction meant that it would not be possible to provide these face shields wherever needed. We have to think about activating the local eco-system to drive impact on a large scale. We have open-sourced the design so that anyone with a laser cutter and required materials would be able to produce wherever they are. A mask would only cover your face partially but this shield would entirely prevent you from any coughing or sneezing and also stop you from touching your face. With the social-distancing likely to be followed in the upcoming months, we need to come up with decentralized production lines and be more self-sustainable in our approach."
Vaibhav Chhabra holding the shields which are ready to be delivered further
Apart from the fundraiser which allowed them to bring impact on the ground and help frontline workers, these face shields are also available for purchase at ₹55 only at their website. With orders pouring, they have collaborated with labs present in other cities to make this innovation accessible to all those who require them.
The volunteers who are working at the Mumbai centre ensure that all the protocols of social distancing are followed. They plan to keep working unless the required number of masks is not manufactured.
The Logical Indian salutes the team at Maker's Asylum for continuing with the manufacturing of face shields even in such difficult times.
Also Read: Coronavirus Outbreak: J&K Police Manufacture 3000 Masks For Its Personnel