Public Health

08.04.20

University of Hull plans to produce 20,000 PPE units a week

The University of Hull is seeking to help support the healthcare service during the coronavirus outbreak, announcing plans to produce more than 20,000 face shields for healthcare workers, addressing current shortages in personal protective equipment (PPE).

A team of engineers at the university have created new designed which can be easily produced using laser cutting and injection moulding. According to the team, the techniques were better suited to high volume production compared to 3D printing.

The university is leading a collaboration to increase production of face shields for NHS workers, working with a local injection moulding company, who have adapted the 3D design to suit their manufacturing process.

After a request from an NHS consultant, the team also adapted designs to work on their own 3D printers and have so far delivered 500 shields in four days.

Using the industrial, injection moulding technique, the team aims to produce more than 20,000 face shields per week.

READ MORE: NHS Providers: PPE guidance must restore confidence of clinicians

READ MORE: Armed Forces to help deliver PPE to frontline NHS staff

Nathan Brown, Senior Lecturer in the Department of Engineering, is leading the project and said: “Across the University, we are using our research, expertise and resources in a diverse range of ways to help with the nation’s effort to fight the Covid-19 pandemic.

“As a team, we have invested a huge amount of time and effort in developing the designs. We have been in regular contact with those on the frontline of the NHS – to develop designs that will protect staff but can be produced quickly and with maximum efficiency.

"While it has been brilliant to see our region come together to produce face shields in line with the global initiative by 3D printing, we have established that this method is time-intensive – even with the best 3D printers available – and may not be able to generate the stocks needed by all the healthcare organisations in our region.

“We hope that our partners in this project – including the University’s Aura Innovation Centre, Hull University Business School, as well as businesses, industrial partners, school and colleges – will continue to support the project.”

The University of Hull is similarly looking to expand and scale up the project as significantly as they can, capitalising on a range of skills its academic staff can provide to the project.

Dr Fiona Walkley, a Marketing Lecturer at Hull University Business School, is leveraging support for the project at national and regional level.

Dr Walkley added: “Hull University Business School is working to support the NHS and other healthcare organisations by using its links into local and national organisations to get this essential equipment produced. Building on the work of our dedicated engineers, we want to raise awareness to inspire more people to join us in this important project.”

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