3M scientists exchange knowledge every day, which is key to creating new solutions across devices, disciplines and businesses. In times of crisis, knowledge sharing becomes even more important. Hydrophilic film commonly is used for microfluidic devices, such as the test strips used in blood glucose monitoring for diabetics. But in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, the film became the humble hero of a new type of face shield used to help protect healthcare workers.
A quick primer on hydrophilic film
Hydrophilic film is often used for point-of-care diagnostics. In the case of the blood glucose test strips, the film usually lives at the end of the strip, helping to ensure the small amount of blood for sampling goes where intended; its anti-wicking properties direct fluid flow. Hydrophilic surfaces are “water-loving.” In other words, they allow fluids to wet out or flow across a surface and promote fluid flow through a channel into a test chamber.
What inspired this water-wicking film to be applied to a face shield?
Helping advance clinician protection
Nissha Medical Technologies, a global medical device company, had been collaborating with 3M on other projects prior to COVID-19. When the pandemic struck, 3M began talking to Nissha and discovered that Nissha aspired to create an anti-fog face shield. They also sought materials manufactured in the U.S.
“We realised we had some material on hand that could potentially meet their needs. Our hydrophilic film is commonly used for microfluids, but it also has anti-fog properties,” explains John Schiltgen, national sales manager for 3M Medical Materials and Technologies.
Those conversations led 3M to making the material available as 3M™ Anti-Fog Face Shield Film – a hydrophilic film with high surface energy that wicks fluid away. Thanks to timely collaboration, LATITUDE™ PLUS protective face shield with 3M™ Anti-Fog Face Shield Film was born.
Face shields are intended for use by clinicians as personal protective equipment in healthcare settings to help protect users’ eyes and faces against liquids. For front-line healthcare workers who may be running from room to room or dealing with larger case volumes, face shields can fog up due to heavy breathing and body heat. Having one less thing to worry about can make a world of difference.
“Moisture undermines a face shield’s usefulness,” John explains. “Fog in the users’ eyes is not acceptable. It creates visual impairment. It’s a critical consideration.”
In his 28 years at 3M, John has never seen a collaboration – nor a large-scale community contribution – quite like this.
“This is the first time I’ve seen a SKU get set up so quickly. Our components have gone into the manufacture of medical face shields for front-line workers in the U.S. when they needed it most.”
Sam Heleba, president and CEO of Nissha Medical Technologies knows, the rapid response by both Nissha and 3M was no small feat.
“This partnership of our two essential medical companies, 3M and Nissha, has been tremendous. The ability to identify a need and fill that need within days is unprecedented.”
Jonathon Casey, senior vice president at Nissha Medical Technologies, echoes support for coming together for good.
“New developments happen when innovators join. Partnering with 3M has enabled swift collaboration to address critical PPE needs. The Nissha and 3M medical businesses worked tirelessly to open massive capacity building for LATITUDE™ PLUS Protective Face Shield complete with 3M Anti-Fog Face Shield Film technology.”
Hopefully, with the help of a humble hero, work will be a bit easier, and a lot safer, for front line workers.