Portsmouth technician puts 3D printer to work in aid of NHS staff members

A TECHNICAL architect has been doing his bit to make the lives of NHS workers easier during the coronavirus pandemic.

By David George
Thursday, 16th April 2020, 12:07 pm
Updated Thursday, 16th April 2020, 3:54 pm

David Collins, who works for technology solutions firm Dunstan Thomas, is using his time to create ear savers on his 3D printer.

These ear savers attach to the protective face masks being worn in hospitals, reducing the strain around the ears and skin.

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David Collins. Picture: Supplied

This means staff are less likely to suffer skin damage from wearing a mask throughout their shift.

David said: ‘It started when a friend of mine got in touch and mentioned that they were running low on these ear savers.

‘He knew I had a 3D printer and asked if I could help; it was something I could easily do, so I began printing them out, and more and more people needed them so I kept printing them out.’

So far David has printed more than 160 ear savers for the NHS.

Vacuum-sealed ear savers ready for delivery to NHS workers. Picture: David Collins

As demand for them increases, so will his workload – but David will not see any commercial gain for his efforts.

He said: ‘Although it’s not a frontline medical device, these ear savers make wearing masks easier and generally more comfortable for doctors, nurses and other clinicians.’

The ear savers are made from a material called PLA, which is plastic made from a base of renewable materials, such as corn and starch.

The tool is printed out using a FDM 3D printer, which has been customised with a glass bed and updated firmware.

This means it takes around 75 minutes to print a batch of seven ear savers.

David says he’s tried a number of designs, settling on the current design due to its flexibility.

Once completed, the ear savers are vacuum packed and sent out in envelopes to NHS institutions across the Portsmouth region.

The use of 3D printers to create personal protective equipment (PPE) by regular Portsmouth workers has proved to be a crucial asset in the city’s fight against the Covid-19 outbreak.

PPE includes the face masks, gloves and eye protection – designed to protect the worker and prevent the spread of the virus.

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