LSTM’s 3D printers reallocated to print face shields for NHS frontline staff

News article 21 Apr 2020
Printing visors - Photo: Sean Tomlinson

LSTM’s PhD student Sean Tomlinson has re-allocated LSTM’s 3D printers and uses them to print face shields for NHS staff working on the frontline during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Face shields are a vital component of personal protective equipment (PPE) for many workers in healthcare settings to protect the facial area from the virus, which can enter the body from infected respiratory droplets through the eyes, nose and mouth. Sean Tomlinson answered the call from DoES Liverpool, a community interest company focused on supporting the local maker community, to produce effective low-cost face shields for North West healthcare workers.

The laser-cut polypropylene face shields produced by DoES Liverpool and the larger network of volunteers have been ordered by hospitals and GP surgeries across the North West including Aintree, Liverpool Royal, Walton, East Lancashire Hospitals and Manchester Royal Infirmary.

DoES Liverpool have had the input of healthcare professionals working in a range of specialties during the design phase of visor production and are sharing their designs, free of charge, with volunteers who have access to 3D printers and laser cutters. Working alongside end-users has ensured that these visors are fit-for-purpose and can protect our healthcare workers.

Sean Tomlinson, who joined the MRC Doctoral Training Partnership scheme with LSTM, has access to LSTM’s 3D printers and is using the designs provided by DoES Liverpool to optimise the printing process to increase daily production. Now with 4 active printers he can print 80 face shields per day.

Sean said: "The maker community has come together to help meet the shortfall in protective equipment. The staff working on the frontline during this crisis are putting their lives at risk to care for others, and I am so happy that I can put the developments we have made with 3D printing at LSTM to such good use in areas beyond the lab. It is a tricky balancing act, optimising the printers to produce high quality PPE at speed. As of the 20th April, we have produced and distributed approximately 200 face shields from LSTM printers. In addition, we are working with DoES Liverpool and Crowd Print, which are larger entities coordinating manufacturing and distribution to those that require PPE. This is vital work that is helping to protect the brave workers on the frontlines."

Sean recently wrote a blog post detailing the more technical side of 3D print optimisation, to read his post please click here

DoES Liverpool are looking for more makers with 3D printing capabilities and materials to join this volunteering community, to support the production of visors to protect our healthcare workers who are on the frontline of the COVID-19 pandemic. If you can offer this support, please contact Sean Tomlinson or DoES Liverpool.