REGINA -- Researchers at the University of Regina are in the process of creating 3D-printed face shield prototypes that once approved, could be used by front-line healthcare workers.

The department of physics recently acquired a 3D printer in early March to be used as a physics detector for nuclear physics research, but have repurposed the machine to help respond to the national shortage of face shields.

"In terms of how the process works, it pretty much works like a normal printer but it adds a second layer and then a third layer on top," said Dr. Gwen Grinyer an assistant professor in the Department of Physics. "Any type of solid plastic equipment in principal it could be used for. You could do frames for goggles in principle, anything that's solid,"

The printer can make a stack of eight headbands in 22 hours and the U of R is expecting at least two more printers in the near future that could produce 24 pieces a day.

The U of R has also made a donation of more than 1,200 N95 respirators to the Saskatchewan Association for Safe Workplaces in Health.

"We understand the pressure that health care workers are under on an ongoing basis," said Darren Cherwaty, Director of Health, Safety and Wellness. "We've seen so many media reports of the shortage of PPE across the globe and anything we can do as a university to contribute to that effort we certainly wanted to be part of that."

The university has been working with regulators to make sure the face shields meet proper safety standards and once approved, they will be distributed to the Saskatchewan Health Authority.