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Berks alum designs face shield component for COVID-19 pandemic

By PennState Berks

Apr 08, 2020

Coronavirus infections are continuing to rise dramatically throughout the country and the state of Pennsylvania – nearly 1,000 new confirmed cases were reported in the state on Tuesday, March 31. Along with the rising number of cases comes an increased demand for personal protective equipment (PPEs), and that’s one issue that Penn State Berks alumnus and entrepreneur Joe Sinclair is working to solve through his Reading-based 3D printer manufacturing business, Verde Mantis.

Joe and his brother Dan had been monitoring and tracking the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) in Berks County and Pennsylvania for some time when his 3D printing company, Verde Mantis, began prototyping and producing personal protective equipment in mid-March. Specifically, the company has created the design that is being used to print the component of face shields that holds the translucent shield in place. The 3D-printed part, shaped like a semi-circle, is wrapped around the forehead of the user and secured in the rear by a rubber band or piece of elastic. Nearly 150 shields have already been assembled to date.

“We’ve met with emergency room staff a couple times and they’ve tested and approved our design,” explains Sinclair. “We’re working with our partners across PA to ramp up production.” He goes on to state that his goal is to see a few hundred face shields produced every week.

Using a template created by Sinclair, CrossTrainer Mixed Reality joined the initiative and began creating the face mask component.

“This is definitely one of the most important things we’ve printed here,” said Kris Jackson, co-founder of CrossTrainer Mixed Reality, LLC. The virtual reality training company was an early partner with Verde Mantis. The relationship formed organically as both CrossTrainer and Verde Mantis are located within the GoggleWorks Center for the Arts in downtown Reading, with Verde Mantis utilizing co-working space within the Penn State Berks LaunchBox.

The professional staff at the Berks LaunchBox played an important role in getting the production process started. Michelle Hnath and Patricia Leshinskie, both Facility Coordinators at the LaunchBox, printed the original prototypes of the shield component and ordered or supplied many of the initial supplies required for CrossTrainer to get started.

In addition to CrossTrainer, several local organizations have joined the initiative including Albright College, Alvernia University, the Science Research Institute, the Greater Reading Chamber Alliance, the O’Pake Institute, and Ben Franklin Technology Partners. The group is looking for companies or individuals with 3D printers who are interested in helping and ask that they email Adelle Schade at [email protected].

With two undergraduate engineering degrees, multiple 3D printing startups, and a full-time director position for a high-tech advanced manufacturing company’s metal additive manufacturing division, Sinclair has invested thousands of hours studying, using, and investigating ways to improve 3D printers. In addition, he is the first graduate of the Master of Engineering in Additive Manufacturing and Design (AMD) program offered through the Penn State World Campus.

Verde Mantis, LP is the first local company focused on bringing 3D printing or additive manufacturing to the masses with the world’s easiest to use 3D Printer, the Mantis ( The new venture emerges from the Penn State Berks LaunchBox, located within the GoggleWorks Center for the Arts in downtown Reading.

As an early member of the Berks LaunchBox initiative and with the help of Penn State Berks staff members, Sinclair has been able to invite local students to participate in the design and fabrication process of the Mantis 3D printer.

To learn more about Verde Mantis’ mission to slow the spread of COVID-19 and how you can help, visit

‘We Are’ stories

The “We Are” spirit is perhaps more important than ever before, and Penn Staters everywhere are coming together in new and amazing ways. During these challenging times, our community is continuing to realize Penn State’s commitment to excellence through acts of collaboration, thoughtfulness and kindness. As President Eric Barron has written on Digging Deeper, this truly is a “We Are” moment — and we want to hear your “We Are” stories.

Visit to share how you or other Penn Staters are supporting each other to overcome the collective challenges presented by novel coronavirus. We are!

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