Protecting frontline staff with 3D-printed PPE

07 Apr 2020

Since the outbreak of the coronavirus, personal protective equipment (PPE) such as visors and gloves have been important for NHS staff to prevent them from becoming infected.

Overwhelming numbers of COVID-19 cases have led to shortages in PPE around the world, but our £47,000 funding is helping to quickly produce supplies for our NHS heroes.

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Researchers at Queen Mary University, London are using 3D printing technology to create protective visors that will shield staff at The Royal London Hospital. The newly designed single-piece visor can hold acetate sheets to provide full face and neck protection. Barts Health’s Infection Control team have approved the design which includes head bands which can be disinfected and re-used, and acetate sheets which are disposable. The visors will soon be used in the Emergency Department, Critical Care Unit and other wards.

These new supplies have been created by a collaboration between colleagues across Queen Mary University of London – including the Blizard Institute, the School of Engineering and Materials Science, the Institute of Dentistry - and Barts Health NHS Trust.

Dr John Connelly, a Reader in Bioengineering working in the 3D-printing lab says: “At the moment, there are around five to six groups at Queen Mary printing visors and sending them over to the Institute of Dentistry where project co-ordinator Professor Shahdad’s team is attaching the face shield and elastic bands, before passing them over to The Royal London Hospital.”

With our £47,000 grant, the team hopes to drastically increase the amount they can produce. Using commercial printing facilities, they plan to create nearly 10,000 visors which can be rolled out across the NHS more widely.

Professor Shakeel Shahdad from Queen Mary’s Institute of Dentistry adds, “The ingenuity of the combined team has allowed us to start immediate in-house production of 3D printed visors. Our aim is to equip all clinical staff with 3D printed visors and expand out into producing these with faster and higher volumes with injection moulded designs in the coming weeks.”

The initiative was featured in the Evening Standard.

Projects like this are only possible with your help. Donate to our emergency COVID-19 appeal to fund projects that support patients and staff during this difficult time – from psychological support, to protective equipment like this.

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