Northampton College staff switch to 3D printing face shields to protect Covid-19 key workers

It means there are dozens of more masks available for key worker healthcare staff

Tuesday, 7th April 2020, 1:21 pm
Updated Tuesday, 7th April 2020, 1:24 pm
Northampton College assessor Tony Thompson has been 3D-printing PPE masks for healthcare workers.

Staff at Northampton College are 3D-printing face shields for key workers on the frontline of the fight against Covid-19.

With Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) in short supply, the college's Electrical Installation and Engineering assessor Tony Thompson has personally produced 50 face shields for Leicester Royal Infirmary, staff at a care home in Corby and a food distributor in Peterborough.

He already has an order for another 50 from a company in Brixworth and the college has agreed to fund the purchase of a second 3D printer to help him meet demand.

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Photo by Tony Thompson.

The 54-year-old said: “I’ve been overwhelmed with the support I have had. I set up a Just Giving page to try to cover the cost of the materials and we have already doubled the target of £300. The college has kindly funded a second printer so we’re all systems go.

“I have got the printing time down to 1 hour 45 minutes for two face shields so I’m trying to work throughout the day and then set alarms throughout the night so I can get the next batch on, maximizing the yield every single day. It’s the only way I can keep up with demand.

“I’m really enjoying the challenge and it’s great to know that what we’re doing is making a difference to all those who need this equipment. It gives you an extra layer of protection should someone cough or sneeze and stops any infection from getting in your eyes.”

Mr Thompson is working with a Facebook community called ‘Print for Victory’ – a network of amateur 3D printers using the technology to help meet the sudden demand for protective equipment.

For more information, visit Tony's JustGiving page.Meanwhile, former Btec level 3 extended diploma mechanical student Adam Mackay is also helping to manufacture PPE and has supplied dozens of face shields to both Northampton General Hospital and Kettering General Hospital.

His former tutor, Neil Tobin, is now planning on doing the same and has purchased his own 3D printer to help bolster the supply chain. He has received a donation of materials from Northampton-based Igus and said: “The printer should arrive in the next few days and I will be producing shields using the exact same specifications as Adam to ensure consistency. It’s brilliant to see him putting into practice everything he learned at college and using that knowledge for such a worthwhile purpose.

“I’m very grateful to Igus for supplying the materials and it’s a great example of the college and our industry partners coming together for the good of the wider community.”