Glasgow University engineers producing a face mask every 26 seconds and up to 1,000 pieces of PPE every day
A team of engineers from the University of Glasgow are helping protect frontline workers by creating thousands of pieces of protective personal equipment (PPE) every week.
Up to 1,000 pieces of PPE are being constructed every day by the team from the James Watt School of Engineering, with more than 3,000 visors already made in the last couple of weeks.
Using an injection moulding machine normally used to help research projects, the team is producing safety visors and making them available free of charge to those in need.
Professor Nikolaj Gadegaard is leading the project and began to look into the possibility of using 3D printers to produce the masks at the end of March.
Printers from across the University were then pooled and programmed with open source visor designs to make the prototype headbands.
However, the team decided this was too slow and switched to injection moulding which uses molten plastic injected into moulds to quickly produce large numbers of items.
After three days of hard work, school technicians Tom Dickson and Wilson Macdougall successfully designed a suitable mould template.
The masks can be made every 26 seconds and the team could produce up to 1,000 every day if required.
Professor Gadegaard said: “A few weeks ago, when it was emerging that carers were likely to be affected by shortages of PPE, we were keen to do whatever we could to help.
“We’re really pleased that we’ve been able to use the expertise we have here at the James Watt School of Engineering to come up with a very promising safety visor which could make a difference for frontline staff.
“The School provided us with the funds to start investigating our options and buy the raw materials we need, which means we can offer the visors free of charge to carers. Having our own injection moulding tools allows us to produce at a scale each day which is equivalent to nearly 100 3D printers working around the clock.”
Volunteers from across the school have been assembling the visors and headbands in the school’s buildings, but there is a worry that a lack of plastic visors could stop production.
Professor Gadegaard said anyone who can help should get in touch via email.
He said: “We currently have enough raw material to keep producing the headbands themselves for several weeks, and expect to be receiving more from suppliers soon.
“However, the plastic acetate visors themselves are becoming more difficult to source, and that could be where we start to run into trouble.
“We’ve already issued a plea to colleagues for spare 250micron acetate sheets and we’d be happy to hear from anyone who would be willing to donate any they might have in their stationery cupboards. Anyone who would like to help can get in touch by emailing [email protected].
“If we receive more than we can use, we will be happy to share with the many other local groups who are working hard to provide visors to those in need.”
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