Nike (NKE -0.23%) might not be spinning straw into gold, but considering the shortages in protective equipment healthcare workers face, its decision to turn its Air sneakers into face masks and respirator parts is just a different kind of valuable alchemy.

The footwear company will be using various parts of its sneakers like collar padding, cords, and the soles of the shoes to fashion full-face shields and respirator lenses to protect against COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus.

Nike full-face shield

A full-face shield made from parts of Nike Air sneakers. Image source: Nike.

A decision that was an easy layup

Face shields serve a dual purpose for healthcare workers. Not only do they protect their faces, but they also prolong the amount of time they're able to use surgical or N95 masks.

The new lenses will be used in powered, air-purifying respirator (PAPR) helmets that are typically deployed in situations with the greatest potential for airborne pathogen exposure, such as in the care of infected patients.

Nike's innovation, manufacturing, and product teams partnered with health professionals at Oregon Health & Science University to create the protective equipment. "The aim was not just a high-functioning shield, but also one that allowed a simple model of production," the company said in a statement.

The shields and lenses utilize thermoforming thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) film, which is a signature component of the soles of the Air sneaker. The protective equipment will be distributed to healthcare workers throughout Oregon.