Laser cutting faceguards

University of Hull campaign raises funds to meet high demand for engineers face shield design

A University of Hull appeal to raise £25,000 for additional materials to meet the high demand for the production of face shields for the NHS and other healthcare organisations in the region has raised more than £22,500 so far – with donations from 780 people including alumni, staff, students and friends of the University.

More than 50 organisations including NHS trusts, hospices, residential care homes and GP surgeries have already made contact since the project was launched two weeks ago, requesting a total of 21,500 face shields. Nearly 10,000 have already been produced and are being donated for use in hospital, hospices, residential homes, GP surgeries and charities across Hull and the East Riding of Yorkshire.

The campaign will fund the increase in materials needed for the production of the new face shield design partnership project being led by engineers at the University of Hull.

Professor Susan Lea, Vice Chancellor at the University of Hull, said: “This project is delivering vital equipment at a time of unprecedented and critical need. It has already seen incredible success and is testament to the value of working together to achieve remarkable results.

“The response from the healthcare staff who are receiving this much-needed equipment, through to that of our graduates who have crowdfunded the increase in materials needed for us to keep up with demand, has been uplifting and inspiring.

“This work is underpinned by the dedication and hard work of our team of engineers who recognised early on the opportunity to really make a difference in helping the NHS and other healthcare organisations. They have used their skills to create innovative new designs, engaging agile manufacturing techniques to increase production capacity.

“The generosity of our community in supporting this initiative has also been overwhelming; but, in truth, it has been no surprise to me that our staff, students, graduates, friends and regional partners would pledge their support and back this crucial initiative.  This is part of the character of our University and region. Therefore, since the onset of the pandemic, our community has come together to support our students and each other, and we are doing all that we can to support the NHS at this critical time: using our research, expertise and resources in a diverse range of ways to help with the nation’s effort to fight COVID-19.”

The University is leading a collaboration and working with Advanced Plastics and WHW Plastics to produce the face shields – with new designs and agile manufacturing techniques set to increase production capacity across the country

The new designs can be produced by high volume manufacturing techniques such as laser cutting and injection moulding, rather than 3D printing. This will increase the amount that can be produced every day from 100 to more than 8000. The designs, which are aligned to mass production and which take just minutes to make, will be shared nationally to other manufacturers to enable production in other regions, maximising the UK’s supply of urgently-needed face shields for the NHS and healthcare organisations to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Nathan Brown, senior lecturer in the department of Engineering at the University of Hull and lead on this project, said: “As a team, we have invested a huge amount of time and effort in developing the designs. We have been in regular contact with those on the frontline of the NHS – to develop designs that will protect staff but can be produced quickly and with maximum efficiency.”

Over the past fortnight, the team of engineers in the University’s Faculty of Science and Engineering including Nathan Brown, Dr Louise France (Lecturer in Medical Engineering) and Brian Houston (Lecturer in Mechanical Engineering) have been developing and producing the optimised designs, collaborating with industrial manufacturing partners.

The crowdfunding campaign is co-ordinated by the Development and Alumni Relations Office of the University of Hull which sent out a call to its graduates/former students and other members of the University community which resulted in donations over £10,000 in the first 24 hours.

Reacting to the request online, donors shared these comments:

“Amazing work guys. You should be very proud of what you are doing. Thank you for keeping the NHS and care workers safe. We all appreciate it very much.” 

“Respect, admiration and acknowledgement of the skill and bravery shown by all those helping others at this time. Good luck to you all and thank you.”

“I'm very pleased to know that my old alma mater is contributing to the current health emergency.”

Partners in this project include Advanced Plastics, WHW Plastics and the University’s Aura Innovation Centre, Hull University Business School, as well as school and colleges.

Dr Fiona Walkley, a marketing lecturer at Hull University Business School, is leveraging support for the project at national and regional level.

Dr Walkley said: “Hull University Business School has been liaising with local NHS, social care organisations and charities to get the face shields the University of Hull has donated into the hands of the frontline workers where they are needed. These organisations are so thankful when they receive the face shields donated by the University that protect their frontline workers in the short term, but they are desperate to order more, so moving to mass production this week is a fantastic achievement.  

“We are overwhelmed with the crowdfunding response and the offers of support from local businesses to help distribute. Critically we still need access to more funding to order the materials to make larger quantities of the face shields and meet the demand that’s out there.”

Donate to this project here.

Frontline public services can order face shields from us here.

For more information about this project please email business@hull.ac.uk.

“This project is delivering vital equipment at a time of unprecedented and critical need. It has already seen incredible success and is testament to the value of working together to achieve remarkable results." Professor Susan Lea, Vice Chancellor at the University of Hull

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