Thirty thousand face shields and counting: Aaron Nelson discusses the HVAMC’s response to pandemic on “The Academic Minute”

Aaron Nelson, assistant professor of art, appeared on the Oct. 19, 2020, episode of WAMC’s nationally syndicated radio program “The Academic Minute,” to tell the story of how the Hudson Valley Additive Manufacturing Center (HVAMC) pivoted to create thousands of needed face shields for medical workers during the coronavirus pandemic.

“When the outbreak of COVID-19 hit New York State, personal protective equipment for medical staff and first responders was in short supply,” Nelson says in the broadcast. “I worked with my colleagues, Dan Freedman and Kat Wilson, to create a simple face shield, which is highly functional and fast to manufacture. When the design was finalized, we collaborated with local manufacturers, IBM and USHECO, to create plastic injection parts to ramp production to speeds beyond what is possible with additive manufacturing, over 30,000 to date.”

Nelson says the HVAMC’s ability to quickly adapt to the needs of the moment demonstrates the efficient rapid prototyping and manufacturing that 3D printing enables.

“This ability to move quickly and decisively is a hallmark for the processes of designing for additive. Additive Manufacturing or 3D printing can increase flexibility, cut development time and costs, eliminate tooling costs and simplify production, giving us the tools to work instinctively and reactively when standard supply chains are disrupted and time is of the essence to deliver equipment and tools to those who need them the most,” Nelson says.

Follow this link to read or listen to Aaron Nelson’s “Academic Minute” broadcast in its entirety.

Aaron Nelson holds an MFA from the University of Massachusetts – Dartmouth and a BFA from Oklahoma State University. His work focuses in the areas between art, design, computation, Computer Aided Design, physical computing and fabrication. His current research focuses on computational design for additive manufacturing applications

About “The Academic Minute
“The Academic Minute” is an educationally focused radio segment produced by WAMC in Albany, New York, a National Public Radio member station. The show features an array of faculty from colleges and universities across the country discussing the unique, high-impact aspects of their research. The program airs every weekday and is run multiple times during the day on about 50 different member stations across the National Public Radio spectrum. For more information, visit