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There’s currently a shortage of safe PPE – protective equipment – for NHS staff tackling the coronavirus, so makers from DoES Liverpool have come together to create designs which, once approved, can be sent into the city’s hospitals.
By using the 3D printers and laser cutters at their making space in the Fabric District, as well as those which people have at home, they hope to be able to supply hundreds of protective visors to where they’re needed most.
Adrian McEwan, one of the co-founders of DoES, says the making community has always been an open, collaborative one and now, in a time of medical emergency, it’s sharing ideas around the world.
“As the news of coronavirus hit, we were like everyone else – working out how we could help,” explains Adrian. “We quickly realised one of the ways was to use all the kit we have, so then we just needed to make the best use of the resources and the expertise we have.”
At its base in the Tapestry Building, DoES Liverpool – which set up nine years ago and is self-funded – has a shared office space and a maker space full of equipment including 3D printers, laser cutters, CNC routers, sewing and knitting machines.
Businesses working for themselves or remotely for other companies use it during the week, then at weekends and in the evenings the space is used by hobbyist members of the community.
Now Adrian says everyone with the relevant skills is on stand-by to the join in the NHS effort.
“We’ve been talking and sharing things, and the general consensus is that visors are something that we can relatively easily match what is needed with the capabilities we have.”
The Liverpool makers have been liaising with their counterparts in the Czech Republic and Spain to come up with the most effective designs.
“One of the people who makes 3D printers in the Czech Republic has worked with Czech health services to come up with a visor design, which I think the US Government has just chosen as its preferred option, so we’ve been printing off some of those.
“And there’s also a Spanish design we’ve been printing versions of too, so we’re settling on a variation of the Spanish one as well as the Czech.”
They’ve already been in discussions with the NHS nationally and now they’re ready to talk to all local Trusts to see exactly what’s needed.
In addition to the 3D printer shields, Adrian has also been working on a laser cut alternative which, he says, takes less time to produce.
“Our chosen visor design at the moment takes just 1 min and 18 seconds to make on a laser cutter rather than the 44 minutes that the fast 3D printer takes,” he says. “So, although we’ll carry on doing the 3D printed ones because we want to keep them busy, for every one of those we’ll hopefully be able to give them at least 30 from the laser cutter.”
A team of seven are involved in co-ordinating the effort from DoES, but Adrian says anyone with a 3D printer at home, or a small business with a laser cutter, can get in touch with them to join forces.
“Once we’re up and running and we’ve finalised a design and the sterilisation process we can hopefully put a significant amount into the NHS,” he adds. “We’re stockpiling now until people are ready to take them and then once we know what needs to be done we’ve got more people waiting to step up so we can scale up.”
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