IMechE Chartered Engineers at Scottish firm design new PPE face shield for NHS workers

14 April 2020

2,000 face shields for NHS and 1,000 for care homes & home care organisations_580x280
2,000 face shields for NHS and 1,000 for care homes & home care organisations_580x280

In response to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, IMechE Chartered Engineers at Scottish engineering companies have designed a new face shield for the NHS, with over 3,000 shields made in the first 2 weeks & supplied to the ICU unit at Raigmore Hospital in Inverness. After the design was approved Friday afternoon, weekend working enabled the first 280 shields to be delivered on Monday.

With the ongoing COVID-19 crisis, the NHS is struggling to keep up with the demand of personal protective equipment (PPE). In response to this, Inverness companies, 4c Engineering and Aseptium have teamed up to design and manufacture face shields for the ICU (Intensive Care Unit) unit at their local hospital, Raigmore – making 3,000 face shields in the first 2 weeks, with another 1,000 on the way. The project is led by Chartered Engineers who are members of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE).

The companies identified a need for additional face shields to protect NHS staff from liquids or droplets which can be sprayed, coughed or sneezed in their direction from potentially infectious individuals. By coming together, the firms have managed to access and deploy supply chain knowledge, fabrication tools and equipment, design skills and user feedback.

We have an ethical and moral responsibility, if we can, to step up and to meet these big challenges which are facing us,” said Peter MacDonald, Director of 4c Engineering. “Our profession encourages engineers to step up and to use their skills and knowledge to support each other, simply because we can.

The design of the new face shield is robust, practical, safe and simple enough to ensure a quick production and manufacturing time. The foam on the face-shield gives a standoff which means that any glasses or masks that are worn underneath will fit comfortably.

At the beginning of the project, the team were hitting just over ten minutes per person per visor, and by the fifth day, they managed to get to just under four minutes per person per visor. Now, they have completed 2,000 face shields for NHS requirements, and another 1,000 have been manufactured, which are allocated to local care homes and home care organisations.

At the moment, they are working on a new concept for the face shields, which will feature a design that will be more reusable and more suitable for cleaning.

Dr. Jonathan Whiteside, Clinical Lead, Department of Critical Care from Raigmore Hospital, expressed his gratitude to the two companies for their help in supporting them through this crisis: “We were delighted to be approached by 4C Engineering, who were able to source materials locally, and produce much needed protective visors. These have been put to immediate clinical use in our Intensive Care Unit (ICU), providing staff with the necessary protection and allowing them to continue to provide high quality care, during these difficult times. Our whole team are extremely grateful and are proud to be supported by local businesses working together and helping us to care for our patients in NHS Highlands.”

For more information about the project, view this video interview with Peter MacDonald.

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