The University of Exeter’s 3D printers have been used as part of a city-wide effort to produce thousands of items of PPE for key workers.
The machines, normally used as part of academic work by staff in The College of Engineering, Mathematics and Physical Sciences and the Digital Humanities Lab were loaned to those running the PPE4Exeter initiative as well as a 3D printing set up run by ExeSails in Topsham.
For two months the ten machines joined others which collectively produced 4,600 face shields for community and care workers.
At PPE4Exeter they were distributed to staff at Devon Air Ambulance Trust, a large number of care homes, remote carer workers and assisted living organisations, local charities, outreach organisations and social enterprises such as CoLab and the St Sidwell’s Community Centre in Exeter.
Fiona Rourke, from PPE4Exeter, which is run from the production studio Kaleider, said: “We have been completely overwhelmed by the response of our local community networks to help us deliver this emergency response project. The generous loan of printers by the University of Exeter has more than doubled our production capacity, making it possible to respond to the need. Our extended care services and the safety of service users and staff are of crucial concern. It has been a privilege to be able to work with our partners to help protect our local community.”
Gary Stringer, Head of Digital Humanities at the Digital Humanities Lab, said: “The Digital Humanities Lab has been happy to play a small part in the initiative to loan 3D printers for manufacturing PPE, during this pandemic. We are proud to be working within the worldwide Maker and Digital Humanities communities which have responded with extraordinary agility, resourcefulness and creativity, to provide for the urgent needs of our carers and healthcare professionals.”
Dr Lizzy James, Technical Services Business Partner for EMPS, who coordinated the release of the printers from the University said: “As we started to understand the demand for these items in the local community we realised that the University could easily contribute our equipment to the cause”.
Associate Professor Dave Phillips added: "Having close friends on the front line in the NHS inspired us to think about how we could help - and volunteering the use of our 3D printers to fabricate much needed PPE seemed like a good way we could lend our support.”