Skilled technicians at Staffordshire University are using 3D printers to print face shields as part of a UK-wide effort to address the shortage of personal protective equipment for healthcare professionals.
The printers were purchased with support from the LEP’s Skills Equipment Fund.
The university is using specialist printers in its Smart Zone to 3D print masks for use by healthcare professionals dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic as part of a programme called 3dCrowdUK’s #TheBigPrint https://www.3dcrowd.uk/
Technical Services Manager for the university’s Smart Technology Hub, Heidi Robinson, said:
One of our technicians Dan Williamson had seen the 3DcrowdUK site and put it forward at our team meeting. It seemed best way forward as we had the correct materials in to help.
I’ve had many technical staff in my Smart Technology hub volunteer to help print in shifts and we are now looking at relocating printers off site, to save unnecessary travel, and to continue this work while we have materials in stock.”
LEP chairman Alun Rogers said:
It is fantastic to see the university using its skills and expertise in this way to support the national effort during the coronavirus crisis. We’re proud of our universities and colleges for what they deliver in terms of providing essential innovative skills.
They also play a vital part in our economic growth. Our Skills Equipment Fund has made a real difference to education and training organisations, to people obtaining skills and now to key workers who are doing an invaluable job at this time.”
LEP funding has been used to create a £5m skills equipment fund (SEF) to allow local employers and training institutions to bid for funding to purchase state of the art equipment and fund minor adaptations to accommodate the equipment. It has been supported by a £2.3million allocation from the Government’s Local Growth Fund.
This SEF has enabled the delivery of high quality and high-level training programmes.
So far 5,500 volunteers from across the UK have stepped up to help make the single-use masks and 80,000 are currently in production. Members of the public can contribute towards the costs of #TheBigPrint.