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The University of Southampton

More face-shields making their way to frontline staff from Southampton

Published: 1 May 2020

A researcher from the University of Southampton’s Zepler Institute for Photonics and Nanoelectronics (ZIPN) is working as part of a team of volunteers making 400 face-shields a day for the NHS and care homes.

Kerrianne Harrington is working with community group So Make It in Southampton using 3D printers, two of which were loaned to them by the University.

Working late into the night, Kerrianne and other volunteers are printing off the headbands in their workspace, which are then delivered to more volunteers who attach the plastic face-protectors and elastic they are delivered to the workers on the frontline.

The team currently have capacity to print around 400 headbands per day and have despatched over 4500 finished products to NHS hospitals and Care Homes, including Home Instead Basingstoke.

The scale of the production operation they have set up means they are able to produce the facemasks at a cost of just 60 pence each which they hope to bring down even further to 40 pence.

Kerrianne said: “We are flying through our supplies and demand increasing all the time. Our small team of volunteers have transformed So Make It into a successful print farm for emergency personal protective equipment!”

Facshield KH

The operation at So Make It is a natural fit for Kerrianne who was introduced to the world of 3D printing during her postdoctoral research projects and found it to be transformative tool for both her research and general curiosity for making things. This background and her experience in computer aided design meant she has been able to answer the call to help produce vital equipment for those on the front line.

“Before I got directly involved I was sceptical of what the makers community could realistically achieve, or whether it would be well meaning but ultimately wasted effort.” She added. “However, after getting involved, my opinion has completely changed. The face shields we are making are being used in hospitals and care homes that need them. Currently, local medical staff would be continuing to work in a pandemic without protection from COVID-19 if not for 3D printed versions, and this is more than good enough reason to keep producing them.”

As the pressures on PPE, particularly for workers at care homes continues to increase the team will continue to work as hard as they can to fill as many of the requests they receive for their products as possible.

The So Make It volunteers have set up a Just Giving page to help them buy the supplies they need to keep their production going.


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