MANILA - With the need for more personal protective equipment amid the COVID-19 outbreak, the Department of Science and Technology's Forest Products Research and Development Institute (DOST-FPRDI) has developed bamboo-framed face shields.
"Isa sa mga commodities namin is bamboo so marami kaming bamboo technologies dito sa agency namin," said Cesar Austria, who led the team which developed the bamboo-framed face shields.
While bamboo was readily available to the team, procuring other materials to produce the shields proved to be a challenge because of the enhanced community quarantine, which remains in effect in Metro Manila and other areas at high-risk of the coronavirus, restricting movement.
Instead, the team improvised with other materials like PVC plastic, cable tie, blind rivets, roof insulator, and nylon cord.
"So dun sa bahay naman naghanap kami ng materials na puwedeng i-incorporate dun sa face shields. And then 'yung plastic mayroon din kaming available na mga cover ng aming mga reports so we utilized that as our face shield, and then 'yung bamboo," said Austria.
The DOST-FPRDI, located in Los Baños town, Laguna, has produced more than 300 face shields and has distributed them to several health units and barangay frontliners in the town and neighboring Bae. Another batch will be produced in the coming weeks.
The face shield design inspired bamboo furniture manufacturer Aniano Manlapas to create a similar product.
With very limited orders of furniture, Manlapas decided to focus on making E-bamboo face shields or engineered face shields that is in demand during this pandemic.
"'Pag sinabi engineered bamboo, dumadaan siya ng process kung saan 'yung unang process is trini-treat siya para maging termite-free siya, siya ang aatake ng bukbok o termite," he said.
Each e-bamboo faceshield costs 80 pesos.
"Sa bawat 10 na nabibili sa akin, dalawa 'yung binibigay ko sa frontliners natin. Parang social responsibility na rin po," said Manlapas.
To help Manlapas, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) in Eastern Samar helped him market his product on their social media platforms.
"Tinutulungan namin... na nai-market 'yong product nila kasi nga hindi sila nagkaroon ng income, there was a forgone income because na-lockdown," said DTI Eastern Samar Director Ruth Samonte.
Manlapas has a team now helping to make more than 50 pieces of engineered bamboo face shields per day.
DOST-FPRDI will also continue its production and will also explore other possible uses of forest products to help combat the global pandemic.