Lee-on-the-Solent tech firm manufactures 200 face shields a day for healthcare workers
A CUTTING-EDGE company is throwing its weight behind the coronavirus ‘war effort’ with 3D-printed face shields for healthcare workers.
Tech firm FliteTrak is making the lifesaving face shields at its Innovation Hub in Lee-on-the-Solent and is enlisting other businesses with inhouse 3D printing capabilities to join the production line.
Batches of the plastic shields are being supplied to GP surgeries, care and nursing homes, domiciliary care workers and other healthcare organisations.
Although it has the latest 3D printing technology, FliteTrak is battling a massive shortage of elastic to hold shields in place around the head.
Andrew Barnett, managing director said: ‘When I heard about the shortage of personal protective equipment, I suddenly realised that we could make use of the design and 3D printing capabilities we have here.
‘We designed several prototypes and have finalised one which meets the NHS guidelines and can be manufactured reasonably simply and easily.
‘The 3D printer makes a headpiece of plastic to which a thin, flexible piece of acetate plastic is fitted.
‘“It’s about 12cm high in total and designed to rest comfortably on the forehead with the actual visor stood off the face so it is less likely to fog up, easier for the wearer to breathe and won’t impair vision while still offering protection.
‘We are using buttonhole elastic to hold it in place around the back of the head but it is in unbelievable short supply so we have designed them so in the worst case scenario large elastic bands can be used instead.’
Andrew, whose company designs and manufactures remote health monitoring solutions, added: ‘It’s about getting the PPE out to the people who need it and we are pleased to help.
‘We’ve had requests from the voluntary sector, GP surgeries, care homes, nursing homes and domiciliary care workers who go into vulnerable people’s homes.
‘PPE is needed everywhere but sometimes these health and community care workers are a long way down the list. Some have said that the face shields are a complete Godsend.’
Each headpiece takes between 30 to 45 minutes to make.
The company can manufacture 200 a day but Andrew is aiming to bolster production by making it a collaborative initiative.