Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust has received its first delivery of face shields created in a specially developed 3D-printing farm, in collaboration with 3D-printing companies and enthusiasts – including students, staff and alumni from Brunel University London.
The face shields will be worn by frontline medical staff tending to patients during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
Several 3D-printing manufacturers have been brought together at Guy’s and St Thomas’ supply chain hub in Dartford, with over 200 printers working 24 hours a day to make the face shields. This 3D-printing farm can produce roughly 1,500 face shields a day.
The face shields are paired with a visor, assembled by a team of volunteers made up of 3D-printing enthusiasts, as well as students, staff and alumni from Brunel and from King’s College London.
David Lawson, chief procurement officer at Guy’s and St Thomas’, said: “It’s been incredible to see so many different partners collaborating to get the 3D-print farm up and running.
“The team of volunteers, organised by our commercial services colleagues, are ensuring that we’re able to rapidly produce our own face shields and other items to support our frontline staff at the Trust. Being able to print our own stock will also allow us to support other trusts in need of these items.”
Brunel’s Paul Josse, technical manager in the Department of Design, led the organisation of the university’s volunteering effort. He said: “Brunel University London and Guys and St Thomas’ have been working on collaborative design projects for many years, so it has been fantastic to see so many of our students and alumni come forward to volunteer to help at this amazing initiative. We have great workshop facilities at Brunel, so we have been very pleased to also offer some technical expertise and specialist equipment to support the project in Dartford."
3D-printing specialists PI Supply and iMakr have provided many of the printers being used at the farm, as well as giving their expertise in the field and helping to find volunteers in the 3D-printing community.
Aaron Shaw of PI Supply, a manufacturer and retailer of hobbyist and industrial electronics, said: “Our company has a number of 3D-printers at the office, and I wanted to see if we could use them to help out with the PPE shortages to help frontline workers stay safe. My sister and brother-in-law are both junior doctors so it is an issue close to my heart.
“Many of our customers are ‘makers’ and hobbyists and we knew that a lot of them have 3D-printers. So spreading the word to our customers and asking them to help with printing was an easy way to build support.”
Sylvain Preumont, CEO of iMakr, said: "We strongly believe in agile and local manufacturing and are proud that our expertise in additive manufacturing is proving to be invaluable for providing essential support to our frontline NHS teams and keeping them safe.”
A small team on Brunel’s campus, led by Paul Josse, has also been 3D-printing around 100 visors a day for hospitals, health centres and surgeries in need – not only for ones locally in the London Borough of Hillingdon, but as far afield as Norfolk as well.
Find out more about how Brunel is helping the coronavirus effort: #WeAreBrunel
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