Blue Origin turns from spaceships to face shields

3-D printing face shield visors
A worker at Blue Origin’s production facility in Kent, Wash., gets 3-D printed face shield visors ready for shipping. (Blue Origin via Twitter)

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin space venture isn’t just turning out parts for rocket ships nowadays: It’s also using 25 of its additive manufacturing machines to turn out 3-D printed visors for hospital face shields.

“Our machines are running 24 hours a day, seven days per week,” Blue Origin said in a posting about the project.

The visors serve as frames for the clear sheets of plastic that serve to protect the faces of health care workers as they treat COVID-19 patients.

About 100 of the plastic visors are produced each day at Blue Origin’s factory in Kent, Wash. They’re shipped off to Stratasys, one of the company’s supply partners, for distribution to hospitals in need around the country.

Stratasys says 40,000 face shields are needed over the course of a week during the coronavirus pandemic.

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By Alan Boyle

Mastermind of Cosmic Log, contributor to GeekWire and Universe Today, author of "The Case for Pluto: How a Little Planet Made a Big Difference," past president of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing.

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