New College Durham answers call for PPE for NHS workers

New College Durham is putting its 3D printer to good use by producing much needed personal protective equipment for NHS workers.

When Engineering Technician Rob Thompson came across a post on Facebook asking for volunteers to make frame parts for visors to be used by NHS staff, he sprang into action.  As the students are currently working remotely, Rob knew the 3D printer at the College was not being used. The College was delighted to give Rob permission to take the printer home so he could produce the parts while still complying with the current homeworking guidelines.

Rob was quickly up and running. He joined an online group call the 3dCrowd who supplied the print files to use with the printer and had soon produced his first print. He is currently able to make four full sets a day.  Once Rob has produced 20 sets, they will be collected free of charge by PDP couriers and taken to a central hub where they are matched up with a visor screen and sent out. The group that Rob is part of successfully completed 18000 prints over the weekend, well on the way to completing their target of 350000 orders.

Rob said: “The first run of prints is going directly to frontline NHS staff, with the rest being delivered to the care industry. The key workers are doing such an amazing job in these difficult times, I’m just pleased I am able to help in some small way.”

Ian Gaskill, Head of School of Technology, said: “When the request came through to support the manufacture of frame parts for medical visors using the college 3D printing equipment, we immediately responded. Rob volunteered to participate and has set up the 3D printer and programmed in the required parts so that the College can donate to this fantastic cause. He is working on this project daily from his home in Chester le Street and will continue as long as parts are required.”

Following the Easter bank holiday weekend, Rob took to his bike to personally deliver 10 full visors to Dr Rahman, at Hebburn Health Centre in Newcastle, and another 15 full visors to Consett Medical Centre.