AM in the time of COVID-19Research & Education

University of Nottingham designs certified 3D printed face shields for NHS

5,000 face shields will be deployed to Nottingham's NHS and community healthcare workers

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A team of engineers from the University of Nottingham has developed a 3D printed face shield that has been certified by CE for use in the National Health Service (NHS) in the UK. The team is leveraging 3D printing resources from the University of Nottingham’s Centre for Additive Manufacturing as well as from local partners to produce and deliver 5,000 face shields to Nottingham’s NHS and community healthcare workers.

The protective personal equipment (PPE) is based on an open-source headband design released by HP, which was modified to meet regulatory standards laid out by BSI, the UK’s national standards body, and to ensure the highest level of protection for healthcare workers. The modified 3D printed face shield has successfully passed BSI tests and received CE approval to be used as PPE for healthcare workers in the fight against COVID-19.

University of Nottingham face shields
3D printed face shield worn by Stuart Smith, Consultant at Queen’s Medical Centre, Nottingham, and Clinical Associate Professor at the University of Nottingham (Photo: University of Nottingham)

“Our primary goal was to ensure that we delivered a PPE solution that was safe and certified so that healthcare workers can have confidence in the equipment they’re using,” said Professor Richard Hague, Director of the Centre for Additive Manufacturing. “Using the flexibility of additive manufacturing (3D printing) and laser cutting technology, we’ve been able to arrive at a design, get it tested and approved, and then manufactured and delivered in a very quick timeframe. We have also had incredible support from our collaborators in getting these face shields to the NHS—the teamwork and willingness of people to help has been truly heart-warming and we are all extremely proud to be able to contribute to the nation’s fight against coronavirus.”

The 3D printed face shield headbands will be deployed to NHS facilities in Nottingham in packs, with five replacement visors per face shield and detailed instructions for optimal use. The designs for the CE approved face shield have also been released as open source files, and the engineering team hopes other manufacturers will help to increase production. It should be noted, however, that manufacturers still need to submit their product for testing to the BSI to obtain CE certification.

“We are extremely grateful to the University of Nottingham for developing and supplying the visors which will make a real difference to thousands of healthcare staff working on the frontline of the coronavirus outbreak,” said Dr. James Hopkinson, Local GP and Joint Clinical Chair of NHS Nottingham and Nottinghamshire. “Packs of face shields have already been delivered to local GP practices, and we have plans in place to share them with a range of other key workers, such as people who care for others at home.”

University of Nottingham face shields
3D printed face shield manufactured by the University of Nottingham (Photo: University of Nottingham)

The face shield itself is composed of a 3D printed headband, a laser cut PET visor with anti-fog coating, and a laser-cut adjustable strap. As mentioned, the headband design was adapted from HP’s PPE design, which was chosen because it integrates a cover at the top of the shield which stops fluids from entering the eyes from above. The key change to the HP design was widening the wrap-around element of the visor, though other alterations were also made to improve comfort.

The University of Nottingham is producing the PPE using its own in-house EOS laser sintering technology, and has received support from Matsuura Machinery UK, which is printing headbands using HP’s MultiJet Fusion process. Other local partners like Prime Group and Nottingham Trent University, are helping to scale production of the laser cut visors and straps.

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