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Manchester's 3D printing technology helps front-line NHS workers

7 April 2020

Categories: Life Science and Healthcare

University of Manchester

Related sectors

Life Science & Healthcare, Advanced manufacturing and Industry 4.0

The University of Manchester is repurposing specialised equipment across its campus to help produce safety equipment for NHS workers battling COVID-19 in an attempt to help reduce the critical demand across the region.

In a combined effort with other universities, including Salford and Manchester Metropolian University, The University is utilising 3D printing capabilities to design and make headbands for protective facemasks worn by frontline NHS medical staff in hospitals.

With nearly 50 printers across the University it is aimed that around 500 additional mask headbands can be produced per week. The face shield is being laser cut by regional commercial suppliers and assembled at Salford Royal.

Professor Brian Derby is coordinating the 3D printing response at The University of Manchester, he said:

“3D printing has allowed the Greater Manchester-based team to progress rapidly from concept, to prototypes, which allowed infection control teams to validate the design and enable the production of PPE acceptable for use in the regions hospitals.”

A team of experimental officers and technical staff who can operate the 3D printers have volunteered to work on site to help with the surge in demand. Measured steps are being taken in an effort to reduce staff travel to minimise risk. NHS staff will collect the masks from the University campus on a daily basis to help resupply their essential stock of PPE.

The University of Manchester is assisting the NHS by mobilising its staff, laboratory space and equipment as part of a collective effort to combat the COVID-19 pandemic in a fast moving and rapidly changing situation.

The University of Manchester has established a COVID-19 research rapid response group through which scientists are working with NHS colleagues from Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust and the Northern Care Alliance NHS Group, supported by Health Innovation Manchester, and utilising our experimental and translational research expertise through the NHIR Manchester Biomedical Research Centre and NIHR Manchester Clinical Research Facility.

Much sought after personal protective equipment (PPE) is also being donated by the University in the midst of a global shortage. Some high-spec or environmentally controlled laboratories including biomedical labs and graphene cleanroom labs, require users to wear PPE including; goggles, gloves and facemasks.

A stock of PPE including 47,660 pairs of nitrile gloves and 200 pairs of protective goggles has now been donated to local health practices to help safeguard doctors and nurses with further stock to be audited and offered.

Elsewhere the Henry Royce Institute which is based at The University of Manchester and with national links to industry and academia has put out a call to link industry partners with NHS colleagues in order to help industry understand and solve problems faced by the nation’s medical staff in a rapidly changing environment caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

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