31st March 2020 — Design Technology teachers at a Stamford School are manufacturing 200 protective face masks a day for the NHS, as part of the national effort to increase the availability of PPE for frontline NHS staff.
Teachers at the Stamford Endowed Schools originally trialled using the schools' 3D printers to manufacture visors, but the process was too slow to meet demand. Staff worked over the weekend to prototype and refine a design for creating the face masks using laser cutters. The first delivery of 100 masks, manufactured in just six hours, was sent to the ICU team at Peterborough City Hospital on Sunday.
The Schools’ solution involves laser cutting a polypropylene headband and attaching it to a PVC screen. With his team, Steve Newton, Head of Design Technology at the Stamford Endowed Schools, has set up a production line in their school workshop, with one team member laser cutting and assembling the headband, one person cutting, shaping and punching the screen, and a third on assembly, cleaning and quality control. This process will allow them to manufacture up to 200 masks per day.
Mr Newton said: "Alongside many other DT departments across the country we have approached the NHS PPE shortage as a design challenge. At SES we are extremely fortunate to have the equipment and skill set to make a real difference to members of our NHS. The design process took approximately 14 hours from initial concept to final prototype and we are now able to manufacture 200 a day. We will keep manufacturing as long as we have materials and a demand for the product – we're just glad we are able to help our amazing NHS workers."
Staff are currently using materials in stock from previous school projects, but urgently require 0.8mm polypropylene sheet and 0.5mm PVC to continue manufacturing in the longer term. Suppliers who can provide the necessary materials are urged to contact the schools at email@example.com
The initial delivery of masks was provided to the ICU team at Peterborough City Hospital, and the schools have now received enquiries from Royal Papworth Hospital and LIVES. In addition to manufacturing facemasks, the schools have donated thousands of pieces of personal protective equipment to both Lakeside Healthcare Sheepmarket surgery in Stamford, and Allied Health South Lincolnshire, including 3,000 disposable gloves, 3,000 disposable aprons, 22 litres of hand sanitising gel, 2,000 chlorine tablets and 60 pairs of eye protection. These PPE donations follow last week's large donation of food to Stamford’s 'Second Helpings' and Stamford Foodbank.
Principal of the Stamford Endowed Schools, Mr Will Phelan, said: "We are doing everything we can to help our community. I’m incredibly proud to see the excellent work of our teams; from the donations of food, supplies and personal protective equipment, to the manufacture of these face masks. We all need to pull together in these difficult times, and we are actively looking for ways we can help – if there are ways that our schools might be able to help, we would urge you to get in touch."