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Visor with PLEXIGLAS® film: FACESHIELD PPE by Protection Impuls

© Protection Impuls/Kevin Schmitz

Crises cause creativity. In record time, an interdisciplinary team of young university students has developed equipment to protect against coronavirus infection. A coincidence resulted in PLEXIGLAS® becoming a significant part of the solution.

They can be found everywhere since the coronavirus pandemic: transparent sneeze guards made from PLEXIGLAS® in shops, medical practices and offices. But PLEXIGLAS® is also suitable as wearable protection, namely as a film for face visors. The transparent face shield increases the safety of the many everyday heroes who are in close contact with people in order to look after them or who cannot maintain social distancing in their jobs.

The desire to help

Klaus Nowak, CEO of Protection Impuls
© Protection Impuls/Kevin Schmitz

Keeping a distance to minimize the risk of infection is currently the top priority when it comes to restricting the spread of the coronavirus. Yet doctors, care workers, supermarket employees, police officers, social workers and employees in many other sectors cannot stay at home or keep their distance from other people. Nor can midwives, like Klaus Nowak’s mother. Klaus is a student at Frankfurt University of Applied Sciences (Frankfurt UAS) and founder of the start-up Protection Impuls.

The shortage of PPE in his personal environment inspired Nowak to mobilize others at the university to help the everyday heroes. The entire world needed enormous quantities of certified protective equipment within a short period of time – just as measures to limit the spread of the virus, such as restricting contact, stopping production and closing borders, temporarily interrupted global supply chains.

The team at Protection Impuls had the idea of developing a transparent face shield, as it provides many advantages. The visors protect the ocular membranes from absorbing droplets spread through talking, coughing or sneezing, while also enabling the wearer to breathe freely – a positive aspect for asthmatics and allergy sufferers.

The transparent shield also provides an undistorted view of facial expressions, which is not only essential for the hearing impaired to be able to understand the person they are speaking to, but also makes communication easier for everybody. Last but not least, a visor prevents the wearer from subconsciously touching their face, thereby preventing pathogens from reaching the mucus membranes.

The aim was to make a reusable visor that could be produced locally in large quantities. “Many people from different faculties at the university were involved from the start. Julian Lauth, head of the production technology laboratory at Frankfurt UAS, had spare capacity and 3D printers available to use during the semester holidays. Everything just started falling into place,” explained Nowak. Just one day after the initial idea, the first prototype of the FACESHIELD came out of the 3D printer: an elastic headband with studs for attaching a visor made from a transparent plastic film. Series production has since commenced and the product range has been expanded.

“The first challenge was to develop a simple system for installation and production in order to begin mass production as quickly as possible,” said Nowak, explaining the development process of the visor. “Another challenge was to find suitable films for the visor and initiate the certification process quickly.”

Presentation of FACESHIELD PPE by Protection Impuls

From request to mass production in just 24 hours

The production partners also showed immense spontaneity and speed. Solidtec, a plastic processor from Dieburg in southern Hesse, was awarded the first contract to manufacture the headbands. It took employees a record time of just 24 hours to develop the required injection molding tools, working through the night to ensure they finished. “We are delighted that our rapid tooling process has been able to play a role in protecting our everyday heroes,” said Sebastian Schelbert, Managing Director at Solidtec. “Making the jump from a prototype to mass production in such a short time frame is a huge achievement and really cool. Of course, everyone is highly motivated to work on a project like this.”

Since then, Solidtec and several other companies in Germany have been producing polypropylene headbands for FACESHIELD around the clock. “The material is so flexible that you can twist it like a pretzel without it breaking,” Schelbert explained.

A coincidence brought PLEXIGLAS® into the solution

The process that made PLEXIGLAS® part of the solution was just as quick and unconventional. “I had met up with friends on Skype for a beer and we were talking about the personal impact of the coronavirus crisis, when somebody mentioned the FACESHIELD,” said Markus Parusel, Product Manager Acrylic Films at Röhm GmbH. His thoughts immediately turned to work, as he works with a material that is perfect for this application every day: transparent PLEXIGLAS® film.

The next day, Parusel contacted Protection Impuls and Solidtec. He loaded a box with samples of different PLEXIGLAS® films into his car and headed off to show them to the start-up and the plastics processor at a hastily arranged meeting. Klaus Nowak, CEO of Protection Impuls, named the requirements for the visor: “Extremely high transparency quality, no reduction of the field of vision, certifiable and flexible.”

Like all transparent PLEXIGLAS® films, PLEXIGLAS® Film 99524 has an extremely high light transmittance of over 91 percent. The transparency and flexibility made an excellent first impression. The next step was to submit the material to a testing institute, which would examine its suitability under the EU standards for personal protective equipment (PPE). Just two weeks later, CE certification was issued.

“Compared to all other films tested, PLEXIGLAS® film has the best optical properties. In addition to this, it is also odorless and poses no risks when in contact with the skin,” said Nowak, explaining the decision to produce the face visor with the brand PMMA from Röhm. In this certified version with PLEXIGLAS® film, the visor is now being sold under the name “FACESHIELD PPE by Protection Impuls”.

Barely a month after the company was founded, Protection Impuls received a large order, and Röhm immediately did everything it could to help provide the required amounts.

BUY FACESHIELD PPE in PLEXIGLAS® Online-Shop

Visor with PLEXIGLAS®: certified, light, practical

Of course, a face visor is not a new invention in itself. Similar products have been available on the market for a while now and, since the advent of the coronavirus pandemic, volunteers around the world have been making their own visors – showing a talent for improvisation and making use of the available materials. How can the quick success of the start-up from Frankfurt be explained?

Nowak lists a number of reasons: “Unlike products from other providers, FACESHIELD PPE by Protection Impuls is certified and we can produce it in large numbers locally. Other standout features include the clever design and the fact that the frame can be reused. The frame and the film can be cleaned easily and are simple to recycle when disposed of properly.”

The product is also very comfortable to wear. “The visor is easy to put on and adapts flexibly to the shape of the wearer’s head. As it is so light, it is very comfortable to wear,” says Sebastian Schelbert from Solidtec, who manufacture the headband. “Customers have reported that it feels like wearing sunglasses, while other visors made from heavier materials can cause pressure, like when wearing a helmet.”

 

Lightweight and robust at the same time – the PLEXIGLAS® film makes a significant contribution to these properties of the FACESHIELD PPE by Protection Impuls. Protection Impuls uses two different thicknesses depending on the intended application. “The visor with a 175-micrometer-thick film is cheaper, lighter and suitable for interior use. The 250-micrometer film is better suited for exterior use, as it is more stable in windy conditions, for example,” said Nowak.

The extraordinary transparency of PLEXIGLAS® films provides glasses wearers with an unimpeded view and even allows the visor to be worn while driving. An opening at the top of the frame prevents the visor from fogging up.

The visor and the frame can easily be disassembled for cleaning and disinfection. Water and soap or isopropanol (70%) are sufficient for cleaning. The PLEXIGLAS® film is wiped using damp, lint-free cloth to prevent static build-up. The film can also be disinfected with isopropanol.

FACESHIELD PSA by Protection Impuls: Das Visier mit PLEXIGLAS® Folie schützt auch Personal in Arztpraxen.

Well protected at work

FACESHIELD PPE by Protection Impuls in use at Dr. Prior’s dermatology practice. It is not only comfortable to wear and covers the entire face, but can also be worn in combination with a face mask.

© Protection Impuls/Kevin Schmitz

Ausgerüstet mit FACESHIELDs PSA by Protection Impuls verteilen Helfer von StreetAngel e. V. Essen an Hilfsbedürftige.

Helping with safety

Protection Impuls is donating FACESHIELDs to Frankfurt-based charity StreetAngel e. V., enabling those in need to receive food despite the restrictions to prevent infection.

© Protection Impuls/Kevin Schmitz

Mit Gesichtsvisieren als Virenschutz verteilen Helfer Lebensmittel an Hilfsbedürftige.

The gift of a smile

A smile cheers people up and brings them together despite the distance required during the coronavirus pandemic. A transparent visor shows what would otherwise be hidden by a mask.

© Protection Impuls/Kevin Schmitz

Ehrenamtliche der Friedberger Tafel tragen Gesichtsschutz beim Verteilen von Lebensmitteln an Bedürftige.

Keeping support going

Thanks to the visors, volunteers at food banks can continue handing out food donations with reduced infection risk.

© Protection Impuls/Kevin Schmitz

Das FACESHIELD PSA by Protection Impuls schützt am Arbeitsplatz.

Working well together

FACESHIELD PPE by Protection Impuls also provides additional protection for those working together on projects, without restricting communication.

© Protection Impuls/Kevin Schmitz

Ein Zahntechniker trägt das FACESHIELD PSA by Protection Impuls mit PLEXIGLAS® Folie.

Keeping a clear view

The FACESHIELD PPE by Protection Impuls has passed the everyday test of a dental technician, as its excellent transparency allows it to be easily worn over the magnifying glasses without restricting the view.

© Protection Impuls/Kevin Schmitz

“Protecting lives around the world”

Although the initial inspiration for the face visor came from personal experience, the start-up team was thinking far outside the box from the very start. Protection Impuls views itself as a social entrepreneurship company. This means that it is committed to solving societal problems, reinvesting the majority of profits into this cause, creating partnerships in developing countries and donating a share of production.

“We want to protect as many lives around the world as possible by providing a certified, safe, globally scalable and affordable FACESHIELD,” says the social entrepreneur of the mission.

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