Total Corbion PLA has donated more than a metric ton of polylactic acid resin to artist Ioan Florea's effort to produce and donate more than 4,000 3D printed closed-top face shields.
The biodegradable PLA Luminy, made from sugar cane by the Netherlands-based bioplastic company, has a high viscosity, Florea told Plastics News, "which is a very important element for extruding the filament."
It has an aesthetic advantage, too.
"It has a pleasant smell when it's melted," Florea said. "You still need to ventilate," he said, but the fumes smell "more like pancakes."
Before loading the PLA into one of 12 3D printers in his own art studio, Florea pre-dries the resin with dehumidifiers for six hours, mixes in a red pigment and produces the filament with three "lab-size" extruders, he said.
"It's kind of a round-the-clock process," Florea said.
After printing the plastic frame, he attaches a transparent film and ships the product fully assembled and ready to use. The shields have been donated to at least 13 hospitals in Illinois and New York, a July 22 news release said.
A special pathogens group at NYC Health + Hospitals/Bellevue approved the 3D printed face shields, Marcia Peters, chief quality officer and senior associate executive director of clinical management, said.