Our Story

Call for Help

Shield LA Started out from a visceral need to help our close friends battling in the front lines of the pandemic. One afternoon Matia's posted a news article about hospitals asking the community to help produce PPE. Patricio saw this post and could not sleep that night, he started thinking of processes that would fit a mass production method of creating PPE. Patricio reached out to Matias to begin an electric collaboration that would spark the ideas for the rest of this journey. It was decided that face shields was the best fit for our competency.

Initial Ideas

We started with vacuum forming as a fast way of producing face shields. As we would later learn this process can be quite slow due to the trimming process required after forming. We created a buck using 3D printing methods and plaster casting. We were able to pull a few pieces but noticed that it would be difficult to get the optical clearity required for everyday use.

EURIKA!

We had set up a meeting with a few hospitals to gauge interest in our new face shield. Unfortunately we were not able to produce a minimum viable product of the vacuum formed design, time was running out and we had limited resources. Apparently this combination of factors was ideal for producing a face shield designed for a pandemic scenario. The night before our meetings we were able to get some flexible plastic from the hardware store and cut it into a shape that now resembles our Mark A design.

There is no try...

The meetings with the hospitals were a total disaster, except for one! We created a strong relation with Huntington Hospital who gave us invaluable feedback on how to improve our design! We also had mentors from our day jobs who helped us see things we were originally blind to. We went through dozens of revisions and iterations of the flat shield making sure to focus on our goal of limited resources and fast production. We where lucky someone was crazy enough to believe in us.

First Delivery: 1,000

After finalizing our initial design we began to look into production. so far we had no money and very little resources. We began a GoFundMe to raise funds for production of the face shields. At the same time, Huntington Hospital asked for 1,000 face shields. We quickly got to work on looking for fab houses and plastic suppliers. Finding the plastic proved to be an extremely difficult process. Patricio spent several weeks driving around Burbank chasing leads on PETG or Poly-carbonate plastic sheets. We ended up finding some over-priced sheets from small hole-in-the-wall hobby shops. Patricio used his personal funds to pay for the first batch of face shields. We were in emergency relief mode.

Leveling Up: Die Cutting

We ended up raising $29,560 on GoFundMe and we used all the funds to improve our production capabilities and deliver the shields to the people working on the ground. We moved away from a water jet process because it took to much time to clean the shields after cutting. Instead we used a die cut stamping method that was much cleaner and faster, it also delivered a better product. We had multiple fab houses at this point producing our shields, we could not keep up with the demand. Ryan Johnson created our first website that had a form people could fill out to apply for donations.

10,000+ Shields

Nathan joined the project helping us improve our production capabilities. He was able to partner with a fabricator who lowered our price and produced 5,000+ face shields per day! This was a big deal because now we could do more with the money donated to our campaign! We also noticed that our campaign was slowing down. We decided to partner with a financial sponsor to improve donation frequency. This proved to be outside of our expertise but through that process we met Emily and The Greater Los Angeles Hospital Registry. This was the dream team, together we could amplify our shared goal of keeping our loved ones safe. We provided extremely cheap face shields, less than half the cost of anyone else!

Final v2

Through this whole time we kept exploring how to improve our design, now that the shields were being used by many people we could get a lot more feedback. We took what we learned and created the Mark A face shield. One piece of PETG prevented parts from being lost. the strap allows for infinite adjust-ability, the trick was increasing the material and having it loop back on itself. This design provided more protection then the standard face shield at a fraction of the price. 

Helping Continued

Thanks to the new design, our partnerships and our amped up production we have been able to reach more people and do more good with the resources available. So far, in partnership with the Greater Los Angeles Hospital Registry, we have been able to deliver 42,000 face shields to hospitals! This is something beyond anything we could have imagined when starting this project at an idea. The biggest reward from this experience was seeing the gratitude of the people using our shields. It was easy to tell we were making a big difference on each delivery and it also served as a way to show that they are not in this alone.