Nike leverages product innovation expertise to develop full-face shields

Marianne Wilson
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Nike has drawn on its access to materials and expertise in product innovation to develop full-face shields and powered, air-purifying respirator (PAPR) lenses to protect against COVID-19.

The athletic footwear and apparel giant worked closely with health professionals at Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU) to develop the badly-needed personal protective equipment for medical workers. The first shipment of the face shields and PAPR lenses was delivered to OHSU on Friday, April 3, 2020. The product will be provided to medical systems located in the vicinity of Nike’s Beaverton, Ore., headquarters. 

Nike's version of the full-face shield repurposes elements used in the brand's footwear and apparel, including collar padding meant for shoes, cords meant for apparel and, most important according to Nike, TPU, the versatile, plastic elastomer material found in the company’s iconic Nike Air soles. 

The three parts of the full-face shield came together in a streamlined nine-step process that was formalized through a collaborative effort between Nike's innovation teams and manufacturing groups at the company’s Air Manufacturing Innovation facilities in Oregon and Missouri.

Nike said that TPU will also be employed to create new lenses for PAPR helmets. The helmets are used in situations with the most airborne pathogen exposure and are essential to the most critical procedures and care of infected patients. Nike's PAPR lenses take the same TPU as the face masks, and have welded segments to fit the specifications of PAPR helmets. 

“The full-face shields help protect healthcare workers’ faces and also help to prolong the length we can safely use a surgical or N95 masks,” said Miko Enomoto, M.D., associate professor of anesthesiology and perioperative medicine, Oregon Health & Science University School of Medicine.

Under Armour and New Balance have also leveraged their manufacturing prowess to provide face masks and other gear to healthcare workers.