An initiative launched by Western University to design and produce face shields for frontline medical workers amid the COVID-19 pandemic is getting some big support from General Dynamics Land Systems-Canada (GDLS-C).

University officials announced on Wednesday that the aerospace and defence contractor had agreed to help produce 500 face shields a day for the project, launched in late March in Western’s University Machine Services (UMS), an ancillary service based out of its engineering department.

Initially, a UMS team of about five or six people had been building the shields by shearing and forming polycarbonate, and then attaching them to 3D-printed Velcro fasteners.

With GDLS-C’s involvement, production will be almost double or triple what the smaller team could do on a daily basis, said Peter White, Western’s executive director of government relations and strategic partnerships.

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With continuing concerns over personal protective equipment, and thousands of requests for the shields coming from across Canada and even from the U.S., White says those on the project realized a new style of production was needed that was beyond simple 3D printing.

“What we looked at was a different process.