Newcastle University wins award for producing vital PPE

Thousands of visors and components for Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) were produced for the local NHS to help them during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Working with colleagues at Northumbria and Sunderland universities, a visor was designed which could be mass produced, while Newcastle and Northumbria also combined their 3D printing expertise to make components for splash guard visors.

Newcastle, Northumbria and Sunderland developed the ‘Hannan snap visor’ which could be produced using die cutting technology rather than laser cutting, which meant it could be produced more cost effectively than previous designs. Almost 6,000 visors were produced and distributed to NHS trusts and the design was made freely available through Open Source Design, so that anyone, anywhere, with the relevant facilities could download it and use it to make the full face visor.

Now, GetPPE-NCL has won ‘Project of the Year (Public Sector / Not for Profit)’ at Dynamo North East’s Dynamites 2020 Awards. The awards recognise excellence in IT and technology.

Thomas Nappey from Newcastle University’s Open Lab, said: “What an amazing honour to be recognised for the hard work by all involved in GetPPE-NCL.

“At the beginning, it all started with a few individuals saying ‘how can we help?’ with the resources and expertise we had. It’s incredible to have seen that grow into a network of people and collaborations between Newcastle, Northumbria and Sunderland. So I’d just like to say a huge thank you to everyone involved in making these efforts a resounding success.”

Working together

Newcastle and Northumbria universities combined their 3D printing capability to print thousands of splash guard visor components. Between the two institutions, 52 printers previously used across research activity and to support students’ work, were used to make parts which were assembled by the NHS and distributed to local hospitals.

At Newcastle, the project began with Nathan Hudson, a technician in the School of Architecture, Planning and Landscape, who began with eight printers, making 40 headbands daily. He came up with the idea following discussions with colleagues and started full-time production after working closely with the local NHS who tested the visor headbands he had made.

“To have won the Dynamites20 award and represent our diligent and resourceful colleagues and friends at Newcastle, Northumbria and Sunderland universities was an honour,” he said. “None of us initiated this project wanting commendation or acknowledgement. Concern and care for the heroes and heroines working on the frontline of the crisis was the driving force.”

Newcastle University also donated thousands of items of PPE it already had on campus and acted as a hub for the collection and distribution of components and in a further effort to ramp up production of the PPE components.

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