Amazon repurposes drone division to have workers make hundreds of thousands of face shields that the company intends to sell to frontline workers at a lower price than competitors

  • Amazon is repurposing its drone division to make face shields
  • The shields will be sold at-cost and will be ready in the next few weeks
  • It's currently unclear how much they will cost
  • Reports suggests Amazon will be making hundreds of thousands of them in the coming weeks 
Amazon is pivoting resources and workers typically devoted to its drone division to make and sell face shields that help protect people against COVID-19.

According to Amazon, it will sell the face shields 'at-cost' meaning it won't make a profit off of them, and says it will announce the selling price for buyers 'in the next few weeks.'

For now it says that initiative will prioritize selling the shields to frontline workers but the company plans to open up sales to the public in the near future. 

Among the advantages of making masks themselves, according to Amazon, is a lower end cost to customers.  

Amazon plans to sell the face shields at cost, meaning the company won't be making a profit. It will also make the design (pictured) available for free for others
Amazon plans to sell the face shields at cost, meaning the company won't be making a profit. It will also make the design (pictured) available for free for others
'Because of the design innovations and the capabilities of our supply chain, we are confident we will be able to list them at a significantly lower price – almost a third of the cost – than all other reusable face shields currently available to frontline workers,' the company wrote in a blog post.  
'We are looking to prioritize frontline workers and then eventually open up to all Amazon customers.'
Amazon reportedly plans to have hundreds of thousands of face shields available by the end of the month.  
The shields are being made by workers at the company's drone engineering facility in Washington and will utilize technology typically used in manufacturing there, including machines that cut carbon fiber to make drone parts, according to
Designs for the face shields, which have been approved by National Institute of Health, are the result of work by a 3D printing group in Washington where the company's drone facility is located.
The group began to collaborate with the e-commerce giant after talks between a member and an Amazon employee, according to Bloomberg.
Amazon will also make the designs for the shields available for free to others who may wish to make them. 
The move to start making protective gear will mirror efforts by other technology and hardware platforms like Tesla which recently started making ventilators designed to help COVID-19 patients.  
In a video released by the company on YouTube in April, the automaker showed off a disassembled version and also a packaged version of the ventilator as it would be presented to hospitals in need.
According to Tesla, they would be made from parts used in the production of its Tesla 3 since the company is familiar with them.
'We wanna use parts that we know really well, we know the reliability of… and they’re available in volume,' says one of Tesla’s engineers in the video. 
The company has also made face shields and donated 100 'tyvek' protective suits to medical workers. 

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