The RIZE of the Face Shields—A peek into the future of work with 3D Printing
Staff posted on May 29, 2020 |
All RIZE Shields that have been provided to date were through donations.

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By Andy Kalambi President and CEO, RIZE.

3D printing technology has assumed a new relevance during the COVID-19 pandemic. So have next-gen technologies that optimize health, productivity, and connectedness.

RIZE Shield healthcare user. (Image courtesy of RIZE.)
RIZE Shield healthcare user. (Image courtesy of RIZE.)

RIZE, a 3D printing and additive manufacturing innovator in the Boston Metro area, naturally wanted to do its part when the pandemic hit. The company developed the RIZE Shield, a face shield with an important difference and provided hundreds to healthcare, retail, and essential workers nationwide.

Yet the backstory to how RIZE created its shields - overcoming key work process challenges that are endemic to 3D printing – shows how the 3D printing industry that emerges from this crisis can embrace a new workflow with greater productivity, sustainability, and proactivity on health and wellness – a new way of working to carry the industry through the post-pandemic era.

Everyone Matters – RIZE Shield’s Personal Touch

At RIZE, COVID-19 presented the same challenge as for other enterprises. RIZE is a growth stage startup in a suburban office park with big dreams, unique technology but not-unlimited resources. Yet given the PPE shortage, speed of delivery was of essence, so RIZE devised a new workflow suitable to operate in the pandemic and beyond.

While most 3D printing companies were contributing to the effort, RIZE focused beyond the PPE, to the feelings of the person who would wear it – and their need for safety, comfort and projecting reassurance to those who trust them to serve.

(Image courtesy of RIZE.)
(Image courtesy of RIZE.)

Within a few weeks RIZE designed, created and distributed for free hundreds of RIZE Shields – a face shield lightweight whose design supports optimal air flow and clear visibility so that the front of shield would not fog. In addition to healthcare settings, RIZE Shields were also made available in supermarkets, coffee shops, and other essential work areas.

RIZE Shields are safe to be worn next to the skin since they are made of RIZIUM ONE, material that achieved US Pharmacopeia Class VI (USP Class VI) certification – the industry’s highest level for biocompatibility. RIZIUM ONE is resilient and readily sanitized by washing with soap and water and other common sanitizing agents such as isopropyl alcohol. Many thermoplastic polymers used in 3D printing such as ABS (acrylonitrile butadiene styrene) and nylon absorb moisture and the virus can linger and spread on surfaces.

RIZE Shields also support personalization. With RIZE’s patented augmented polymer deposition (APD) technology, its XRIZE printers that created the RIZE Shields apply both text and images in full color within the shield itself, while it is being printed. Personalization aids everyone in recognizing the face behind the mask – not as a faceless entity, but as a brave worker with a name, an organization behind them – standing in front of the public where they are placing themselves at risk to aid their communities.

Users raved about RIZE Shields’ comfort and personalization. “Treatment is not just about therapeutics. It’s also about how you make patients feel,” said Dr. Rafat Padaria, MD, FACC, cardiologist at Cardiovascular Medicine, PC, in Davenport IA and Moline IL.

“Patients feel more comfortable when they can identify you. “RIZE shields are easy to wear, light on the head, have a great fit, and thin enough for us to look through without compromising our safety. With the RIZE face shield our practice logo and my name on the top of the shield, are the first things patients see. They instantly identify me and helps to create a more personal connection and reassure them. It helps to make the patient more assured,” Dr. Padaria said.

Better, Smarter Workflows

Creating RIZE Shields during the early days of stay-at-home orders required a new workflow, and a focus on practices that can sustain the industry as it finds a new normal.

Health Matters
For everyone’s health and safety, RIZE enabled the entire team to work from home, while obtaining special permission from local authorities to keep the office open for emergency activities. Each of the engineers was enabled to take home one or more of RIZE’s industrial 3D printers. This was possible without the typical concern for indoor air safety, since RIZE printers are designed and UL 2904 certified for use in indoor environments. Its RIZIUM materials are biocompatible, recyclable, and completely non-toxic – meaning that company engineers could continue to work while tending to their kids at home, cooking meals, etc.

Since RIZIUM material is also recyclable, engineers making face shields and other components could deposit used material into the recycling bin without having to worry about any special handling needs. Most importantly due to the unique RIZIUM properties of minimal moisture absorption and surface permeability, they could handle the materials with reduced risk of cross- contamination. As the pandemic places heightened emphasis on workplace health and safety, RIZE remains the only firm in the 3D printing industry to achieve UL 2904 certification in the face of compelling scientific research on the health risks of indoor air quality near 3D printers.

XRIZE set up at home safely without need for venting.

XRIZE set up at home safely without need for venting.

Staying Productive Matters

Being productive with 3D printing requires more than a desk and a laptop. Over the eight weeks that RIZE’s team began working from home, each of its engineers converted their basements/gym/kitchens/garages into micro-factories. Staffers designed components, prototyped them, tested, worked with key suppliers and even got them manufactured. They did so while operating from the safety of home, while selectively and safely using the office only for essential shipping and logistics.

Engineers leveraged the time they saved on commuting and non-essential tasks to create and print RIZE Shields and new parts for critical equipment like ventilators in addition to their primary work. An daily company check-in, daily team meetings and traditions like Friday lunch (done virtually) enabled connection and continuity. The virtual environment brought everyone closer, and even some family members of all species joined online calls. While metrics are mostly qualitative, RIZE’s leadership team felt the previous weeks were the most productive the company had seen. It is estimated that RIZE saw productivity enhancement of 12 - 15% since going to remote operations.

Everyone Matters

In a hyper connected world, any one individual’s well-being – physical, financial, emotional – is intrinsically and intricately connected to others. The RIZE team joined by others in the industry is offering the fruit of its time and talents beyond healthcare workers because everyone matters – the person delivering mail and packages to doorsteps, ringing up groceries and collecting trash.

The world has gone through this gigantic experiment of working or studying from home. The job roles that fared best were the ones that could quickly adapt to work/study anywhere and were not constrained to physical locations.

The workflow that RIZE evolved in the making of its RIZE Shields and related COVID-19 mitigation components bears lessons for the rest of the additive manufacturing industry. The new normal will reward entities that adapt to be more productive, connected and relevant. Who knows – the new normal might be even better than the past.

Author’s Bio:

Andy Kalambi is the President and Chief Executive Officer of RIZE Inc, IDC's top innovator for 2018 in 3D Printing. RIZE is a next generation 3D printing company committed to sustainable and inclusive innovation. Its unique technology is making industrial 3D printing safe and easy for all users and enable printing of full color industrial parts at the point of consumption.

XRIZE three-quarter view. (Image courtesy of RIZE.)
XRIZE three-quarter view. (Image courtesy of RIZE.)

Andy has over 25 years’ experience in executive and general management. He has worked in diverse technologies - Industry 4.0 Platforms, PLM and ERP. Most recently, he built a distinguished career at Dassault Systèmes, where he served in multiple roles, including CEO of the ENOVIA Brand and the global executive of the 3DEXPERIENCE platform, driving digital transformation initiatives within global enterprises. Prior to that he also did some pioneering work at SAP. A qualified mechanical engineer, Andy is a passionate advocate for inclusive business practices, based on respecting the environment, as well as social and gender equality.

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