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DIY repair of Petzl Vizion face shield

Original Post
Jeff Deutsch · · Unknown Hometown · Joined May 2007 · Points: 0

I've been ice climbing with Petzl Vizion face shields for a decade now. While they aren't perfect, I find them to be better than anything else I've tried. Eventually, the shield breaks, usually when I catch it on a branch or something. It always breaks at the hinge attachment point. Since Petzl doesn't sell replacement shields, I have to buy a whole new kit. I had the idea that I could make my own face shield. This is what I've learned...

The original Petzl face shield is made from 1mm Lexan (aka polycarbonate, aka makrolon). You can get enough to make two face shields (12"x12") for just a few dollars on ebay. You can also get 1/16" lexan (about 1.6mm) which will give you a stronger face shield, though it's harder to bend and insert the hinges. Another possible source of thin lexan is a cheap poster frame. Our local reuse center always has a few for $0.50 and they contain enough material to make a dozen face shields. Throw out the cheesy reproduction of Starry Night and you are good to go. Drawback: Is it lexan or acrylic or some other plastic? I don't know how to tell the difference.

You can try acrylic instead of lexan. It has better clarity and scratch resistance than Lexan, but it shatters more easily (which really isn't a feature you want in a face shield). A huge advantage of acrylic is that you can cut it with a laser cutter, which makes it easy to churn out face shields. From what I've read, Lexan doesn't cut well with a laser and it produces toxic gas.

Once you have your source material, you need to trace the original face shield on it. Don't have the original face shield? I've created two files. One is a raster of a face shield. The other is vector format. The raster is designed to be printed at 96dpi. The face shield is about 11.7" wide and 5.1" tall. The raster file is at an angle so it can fit on 8.5"x11" paper. Make sure your print software isn't scaling the image. The vector file can be sent to a laser cutter to cut acrylic directly, or to produce a template out of plywood or something similar. It has 0.001" stroke lines, which is how the laser cutter I use knows to produce a cut. I think some lasers use a specific color line instead of a specific width.

I've been told the best way to cut lexan is with a scroll saw. But I don't have one. What I do is clamp the lexan tightly to scrap material (or sandwich it between two wood templates). Then I drill a small hole (5/32") where the hinge tab inserts. Then I drill the larger hole (1/2") that houses the hinge. The two holes should flow together smoothly. A jigsaw with a fine tooth blade can smooth this junction. Finally, cut the entire outline with the jigsaw.

Once you have produced the first one, try some variations. Make a bigger face shield to reduce the chance of getting hit in the mouth. Drill some vent holes along the top to reduce fogging. Have fun!

earl mcalister · · Las Vegas, NV · Joined Aug 2010 · Points: 186

Thanks Jeff! I just started using the face shield this year and it for sure is nice on dry days. My biggest gripe? I can't attach my headlamp to the helmet with the shield on! These are some great tips I will remember when the thing inevitably breaks.

Allen Sanderson · · On the road to perdition · Joined Jul 2007 · Points: 1,188

I just fix them with duct tape. Works great.

Jeff Deutsch · · Unknown Hometown · Joined May 2007 · Points: 0

Yeah, I've regretted the lack of headlamp attachment a few times in the past. I'm not usually climbing ice in the dark, but I want to be able to wear my helmet on long approaches and descents because otherwise I have to carry the helmet in my pack.

Duct tape fixes everything :) Another solution I've thought about but haven't tried: Trim an inch from each side of the original face shield. This should remove the hinge attachment points and whatever was broken. Then use a laser to cut just the ends (about 2" each) of the face shield from 1mm acrylic. That will give you 1" of overlap with the original face shield. Then glue the acrylic to the original. You have to trim the original. If you just glue on top of it, the result will be far too thick to insert the hinge. Advantages of this solution: You can easily cut the small pieces you need on a small scrap of acrylic (assuming you have access to a laser cutter). The final product is still mostly lexan which is more resistant to shattering. Anyhow, I haven't tried it. Just thought it might work.

djh860 · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Dec 2014 · Points: 110

I’d recommend that you pre tape the place that usually cracks to give it support.  It may last longer that way.

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

Ice Climbing
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