Engineering staff at Northern Regional College are using 3D printers to produce protective face shields to help cope with the unprecedented demand for Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).
Using a design developed by a group of Spanish engineers which was modified by academics in the School of Pharmacy at Queen’s University in Belfast, the College has answered the call to provide PPE for healthcare workers. To date over 250 masks have been produced at the College’s Farm Lodge campus and distributed to hospitals, nursing homes and GP surgeries in Ballymena, Coleraine, Antrim, Larne, Newtownabbey, Magherafelt and Belfast.
Gordon Kane, Assistant Head of Department of Engineering and Built Environment explains how the College got involved:
“When Queen’s started producing 3D and laser printed masks to distribute to Belfast hospitals, they were swamped with requests from local care homes, surgeries and pharmacies so they reached out to other third level institutions for help.”
He continued: “The masks may be a relatively low-cost item and easy to produce if you have the right equipment, but they can make a huge difference to healthcare workers during this crisis. Some of our staff and many current and former students are playing an important role as key workers so it is important to do what we can to support them.”
The College has placed an order for additional materials to allow the production of 3D protective masks to continue.
As part of its broader response to COVID-19, the College sourced over 35,000 items of PPE from across all campuses and these have already been distributed for use among frontline staff in local hospitals and nursing homes.