Scot turns dining room into mask production line in effort to help health care workers

A software engineer from Scotland has turned his dining room into a mask production line as he joins others in making protective gear for frontline workers.

A software engineer from Scotland has turned his dining room into a mask production line as he joins others in making protective gear for frontline workers.

David Ritchie, from Penicuik, started helping the national effort in protecting NHS staff and volunteers working to fight the coronavirus by making robust masks.

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In just one week, the father-of-two now finds his dining room has been turned into a mask production line.

David Ritchie, from Penicuik, has set up a visor production line in his dining room

“Everyone else in the house is banned from the room I work in,” he said.

“The dining room has become the place where I produce the visors.

“It’s honestly a bit like a commercial kitchen – everything is very clean and gets cleaned.”

David said he is amazed by the demand for protective gear from medical centres and care homes across the country.

“I thought I would be making about 30 to 40 a day at most but this project has really grown arms and legs,” he said.

“Hospitals in Glasgow, Edinburgh, Livingston and other medical practices across the Central belt have been putting in huge orders.

“We are aiming to produce 70 a day at the moment but this will probably go up.

“It’s a bit crazy how many orders are coming in so really glad to be helping.”

David, who works as a software engineer when he’s not making visors, said he has had to limit orders to 50 masks at a time to make sure he has enough to go around.

He said at the moment he is adding about 200 new visors to his order list each day.

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Hospitals are currently asking for 100 to 200 at a time taking about 50 per cent of what David makes.

Other requests come from care homes, funeral directors, pharmacies and local clinics and surgeries.

“When I thought about making them I almost wasn’t going to bother because I could see quite a few other groups getting involved and it wasn’t worth it,” he said.

“But when I spoke to some guys up at Queensferry making protective gear they said the situation was the opposite, so I started doing it for local people here in Penicuik and now I have orders from further-a-field.”

The visors are currently bagged up and delivered to those who need them by volunteer drivers and are free of charge.

David said his community have worked together to create a list of instructions to be included in the delivery on how to clean the visors appropriately.

“Everyone is really chipping in,” he said.

“I know a couple of other guys who have started in the area as well, and I am part of a couple of Facebook groups where people share tips on how to make these masks.

“I also asked the doctors in the local surgeries what they thought and the design I am currently following now is the one they prefer.

“One doctor said the PPE he was using before had a similar effect to those plastic glasses you wear in a chemistry class at school, i.e not very effective, so it’s great to hear these visors are helping.”

David said the offer to help and support his project has been incredible.

His colleagues sent a 3D printer from the company he works for to help boost production. He now has three for making the masks.

In order to sustain his much-needed production, he has set up a gofundme page asking for donations.

The current goal based on the amount of orders in the last week is to make 2,000 shields.

This means David will need to raise £5,300 to cover the cost.

He said any money and goods left over after the coronavirus outbreak will go to local charities and groups.

On the gofundme page it reads: “Now we understand better what the demand is for these shields it is clear that it is way beyond printing them for the local front line works and high risk neighbours.

“Our hospitals, care homes, medical facilities, etc are all in desperate need for them.

“We really need to be making 2000 shields.

“We've got a good hold now on how much they cost to make which is £2.65 per shield and therefore we are revising our goal to £5300.

“That will give us enough shields to supply the local demand plus the areas care homes, the front line business,es, the medical clinics and supply at least 100 each to five of the biggest hospitals across Central Scotland.

“There are three other groups we are aware of so between us we should be able to supply the hospitals eventually.

“Thank you so much for your donations so far it is making a difference. We now need you to start sharing this page with your friends and family who would also want to contribute so we can ensure the people that are saving us have the protection they need.”

The page includes a list of items that David is asking to be donated:

* 1.75mm PET-G 3D Printer Filament* 12mm Woven Elasticated Band (like used in sewing)* Large clear zip bags, needs to be able to hold an A4 sheet of paper

To visit his gofundme page click here.

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