The University of Hull is leading a collaboration to produce face shields to support the NHS and other healthcare organisations in the region – with new designs and agile manufacturing techniques set to increase production capacity across the country.
New face shield designs being produced by engineers at the University could increase production of the life-saving equipment across the UK.
The new designs, which are aligned to mass production and which take just minutes to make, will be shared nationally 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.
The new designs, which the team of engineers at the University has been working on around-the-clock with NHS consultants and industrial partners to develop, 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 2000-5000.
The process started with a request from NHS consultants. The team used the designs shared by the engineering and maker community which they adapted to suite their 3D printers and to fit with the feedback from medical consultants.
Nathan Brown, senior lecturer in the department of Engineering and lead on this project, said:
“Across the University, we are using our research, expertise and resources in a diverse range of ways to help with the nation’s effort to fight the COVID-19 pandemic.
“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.
"While it has been brilliant to see our region come together to produce face shields in line with the global initiative by 3D printing, we have established that this method is time-intensive – even with the best 3D printers available – and may not be able to generate the stocks needed by all the healthcare organisations in our region. We hope that our partners in this project – including the University’s Aura Innovation Centre, Hull University Business School, as well as businesses, industrial partners, school and colleges – will continue to support the project.