ULS Blog

Laser Cutting Face Shields

April 2020

Face shields are in high demand and some of our customers are shifting production of their laser systems to help fill this need.


Here is a simple design for a face shield that can be produced quickly with a Universal laser system.

Overview

Face shields of this type are sometimes called splash shields because they are designed as a supplemental barrier for liquids and not intended for impact protection. By themselves, face shields offer limited protection. These face shields/splash shields are coupled with N95 masks as part of a personal protective equipment (PPE or P.P.E.) plan. For this reason, face shields are considered adjunctive or supplemental personal protective equipment.

Required Parts

There are many different designs for face shields but the common elements are:


  • Clear plastic shield that covers the face including mouth and eyes


  • Material between forehead and clear shield creating enough space for a nose, facemask and glasses (typically plastic or foam)


  • Method and material to hold the mask on the head (typically a strap, band or cord)

Design Materials, Details and Dimensions



    A standard face shield is 12” wide by 8” high. A large face shield is 12” wide by 11” high. The information below will work for both sizes.


    For this face shield construction, we use:


    • A thin and clear flexible plastic sheet such as polyester film/PET/PETG or polycarbonate/PC that is .010” -.020”.



      Note: Do not use acrylic or PVC. Avoid acrylic because it is brittle and could easily crack and break. In addition, alcohol used for cleaning and sanitizing quickly leads to microcracks or crazes in acrylic. Avoid PVC because it is not rigid enough, and when laser cutting it creates toxic chlorine gas that is hazardous and corrosive to laser system parts.


    • Rogers Corporation 4701 Poron® ½” polyurethane foam cut to dimensions of 10” wide x ¾” high. This foam was selected due to its ability to conform to the head for comfort and additional protection at the top of the face shield. There are many suitable foam materials from a variety of manufacturers available in sheets. Foam is also available in rolls with adhesive already applied.


    • 3M 467MP high performance adhesive transfer tape to attach the foam to the shield. The adhesive is also cut to dimensions of 10” wide x ¾” high.






    • Paracord (nylon cord) also known as parachute cord or 550 cord (any color) with a standard diameter of 5/32” and length of 28”.


      The plastic sheet and foam curved around the front of the head act like a spring and create enough tension with the Paracord to hold the face shield firmly in place. Paracord with a plastic cord lock is infinitely adjustable. You can substitute the Paracord for an elastic strap, but you will need to find a different way to attach the band to the shield and will need to consider other variables including head size, strap length and strap tension.



    • Plastic Cord Lock End Toggle - Double Dual Hole Spring Stopper Fastener Slider Toggles End, 16x17mm, Q2691






    Material Suppliers List


    • Rogers Poron® Foam - Contact Rogers Corporation for a distributor or Scott Yeado at American Flexible Products (952-368-4225).


    • 3M Adhesive – Search Grainger, Amazon or Tekra


    • Paracord – Search Amazon or do a web search for Paracord. There are many suppliers and many color options.


    • Cord Lock – Amazon or Paracord supplier

    Design File

    Below is the face shield design. Contact ULS to request the design file. The design file is available in various formats.


    Laser Processing and Face Shield Assembly

    The fabrication of all parts for a face shield requires just one process - laser cutting. Laser marking for part number, logo, website or other purpose is optional and can be done directly onto the shield material.


    • Plastic sheet cutting - Laser cutting the plastic sheet can be accomplished by any Universal Laser System with a CO2 laser. Time will vary with machine and laser power but is typically less than a minute. Polycarbonate is superior for impact resistance, but these shields are for splash protection so most shields of this type are constructed of lower cost and faster processing polyester film (PET/PETG). Keep the factory masking on the material or add masking before cutting to keep the material clean.


    • Foam and adhesive cutting - Foam and adhesive can be cut separately or the adhesive can be added to the foam before cutting.


    • Paracord cutting - Laser cutting is highly recommended for Paracord. Paracord consists of a woven tubular nylon sheath surrounding dozens of individual nylon filaments and strands. When mechanically cut it frays. With laser cutting, the ends are automatically heat sealed so there is no fraying.



    Assembly consists of attaching the foam strip to the shield with adhesive, sliding the cord lock over the cord and tying the cord to the left and right side of the shield.

    Laser System Considerations

    Laser processing for face shields is possible with all Universal laser systems equipped with a CO2 laser.


    Here are some considerations:


    • Processing Area – The smallest ULS system can laser cut one large shield or two standard size shields at a time. The largest system can cut twelve standard size shields at a time. In addition, our larger systems including all platforms in the ULTRA, ILS and XLS series have available pass-through so they can accommodate material 24” wide by any length. A larger system has the advantage of less material preparation (cutting down to size) and fewer laser system loading and unloading operations.


    • Laser Power – The minimum power for cutting the materials for a face shield is 25 watts. Productivity increases with an increase in available power up to 150 watts.


    • Gas Assist and Optics Protection – Gas assist using an air source is a standard requirement for cutting operations. Optics protection integrated with the gas assist protects laser system components from debris created in the cutting process.


    • Cutting Table – A cutting table helps keep material clean especially if the material is unmasked. With a flow-through design a cutting table also helps hold down thin materials including the plastic and adhesive sheets.

    Next Steps

    If you would like to discuss materials, equipment and processing details or request the design file, please contact us at (480) 483-1214 or (800) 859-7033, email, online chat or web form.