Amazon selling coronavirus face shields it helped design

Amazon’s coronavirus face shields are now available to purchase on its website, Amazon robotics engineer Brad Porter announced Tuesday.

Porter wrote in a blog post that the shields, which Amazon has been donating to front-line workers, are now available for purchase at cost. The shields, manufactured by Boyd Corporation in the U.S., come in packs of 25 for $2.65 per shield, or $66.25 total — a third less than what other retailers charge for reusable face shields available to front-line workers, he wrote.

Porter had said in a May 14 blog post that Amazon had already donated 10,000 face shields to COVID-19 front-line workers. In his update Tuesday, he wrote that Amazon has already donated 30,000 more face shields than initially anticipated and plans to donate another 150,000 by the end of 2020.

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Amazon began developing the masks after its mechanical design and hardware workers teamed up with a coalition of 3D printers based in Washington state called the Washington State 3D Face Shield Hub. The groups combined their engineering expertise and feedback from front-line workers to design and produce the shields starting in March.

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The U.S. was facing a shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE) in the early months of the pandemic when health care centers and hospitals in cities like New York and Seattle were blindsided by its impact.

The country’s biggest companies, including Amazon, Tesla, Apple, Lowe’s and Home Depot, worked to obtain and distribute millions of masks and other PPE.

“Developing a safe and more comfortable design that had never been seen before was one area we used our talents of invention and bias for action to make things better during this crisis,” Porter wrote in May. “…Putting our scale to use for good, we repurposed our manufacturing facilities and are working with outside vendors to produce these new face shields quickly, and at a fraction of the cost.”

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Amazon donated $10 million in PPE “amid a new shortage of supplies” on July 16, according to a regularly updated blog post detailing the company’s COVID-19 relief efforts.

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