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NTU supports University of Nottingham engineers to produce certified 3D printed face shields for NHS

Scientists at Nottingham Trent University are supporting the University of Nottingham to produce certified PPE face shields at scale for healthcare workers to use in the fight against COVID-19.

Face shields being worn by NS workers
Image courtesy University of Nottingham

Dr Dave Fairhurst, Professor Bob Stevens and research technician Luke Blyth have been using NTU’s laser-cutting facilities and their own expertise to produce the strap component of a face shield designed by the University of Nottingham’s Engineering department.

Using the latest in Additive Manufacturing (3D printing) technology and materials at the University of Nottingham's Centre for Additive Manufacturing, and working with external collaborators, the team will deliver 5,000 of the face shields to Nottingham’s NHS and community healthcare workers.

Building on an open-source design of headband originally from HP, the team in the Faculty of Engineering made modifications to ensure the face shield could pass a regulatory test1 by BSI, the UK’s national standards body, to meet its essential health and safety requirements which ensures the highest level of protection is provided.

The face shields successfully passed the BSI tests and are CE approved 1 for use as part of PPE for healthcare workers’ protection against COVID-19 in both hospital and community environments. They are provided in packs to the NHS, with five replacement visors per face shield as well as instructions for use.

The team have made the design and its accompanying documents ‘open-source’ to enable other manufacturers to produce the face shields – however, manufacturers will need to submit their product for testing to the BSI to obtain their own CE certification.

Professor Richard Hague, Director of the Centre for Additive Manufacturing, said: "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.

Professor Hague continued: "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.”

Professor Donal McNally, Head of the Bioengineering Research Group in the Faculty of Engineering, said: “Having a PPE solution that meets National and EU safety standards is critical for deployment within the NHS.  It has been a truly outstanding achievement to go from nothing to thousands of devices being used by local doctors and hospitals in less than a month.  This would not have been possible without the extraordinary efforts of local manufacturing partners and BSI.”

Dr James Hopkinson, Local GP and Joint Clinical Chair of NHS Nottingham and Nottinghamshire CCG, said: "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. Packs of the face shields have already been delivered to local GP practices, and we have plans in place to share them with a range of other keyworkers such as people who care for others at home. I think this is a really positive example of talented professionals working across normal boundaries in order to support our local communities in what is an unprecedented and very challenging time."

Design modifications were made by the team to conform to the BSI’s PPE regulations in order to obtain CE marking; this involved making the wrap-around visor element wider, as well as other alterations to improve comfort for users. The HP design was chosen by the Nottingham engineering team as it incorporates a cover at the top of the face shield which prevents fluid from entering the eyes from above – deemed critical by healthcare professionals.

The face shield comprises a 3D printed headband, a laser cut PET visor (with anti-fog coating) and is kept in place with a laser-cut adjustable strap. As well as using their own EOS Laser Sintering equipment, the University of Nottingham’s engineering team have been heavily supported by Matsuura UK to produce the 3D printed element, using their HP MultiJet Fusion process. The visor element has been made with the help of local firm, Prime Group, and Nottingham Trent University are now ramping up for production of the laser-cut strap.

Peter Harris, Additive Manufacturing Manager at Matsuura Machinery UK, said: "We are immensely proud to use our Additive Manufacturing to support the University of Nottingham in the production of their face shield. The safety of NHS and care workers is paramount and the University has shown that it is possible to manufacture PPE at speed with the relevant safety certification. This is a stand-out project which is setting an example for the rest of industry."

Professor Nigel Wright, Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Research and Innovation, at Nottingham Trent University, said: “Nottingham Trent University is delighted to be working with the University of Nottingham on the delivery of a safe and certified PPE solution, enabling our healthcare workers to safely carry out their vital work. During these challenging times, collaborations such as these are crucial and significant to the protection of our communities against this virus.”

Face shields are part of the government’s recommended personal protective equipment (PPE) for coronavirus, providing protection to the eyes and face against contamination from respiratory droplets arising from procedures such as intubation, and from splashing of secretions (including respiratory secretions), blood, body fluids or excretions.

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    NTU was named University of the Year 2019 in the Guardian University Awards. The award was based on performance and improvement in the Guardian University Guide, retention of students from low-participation areas and attainment of BME students. NTU was also the Times Higher Education University of the Year 2017, and The Times and Sunday Times Modern University of the Year 2018. These awards recognise NTU for its high levels of student satisfaction, its quality of teaching, its engagement with employers, and its overall student experience. The university has been rated Gold in the Government’s Teaching Excellence Framework – the highest ranking available.

    It is one of the largest UK universities. With nearly 32,000 students and more than 4,000 staff located across four campuses, the University contributes £900m to the UK economy every year. With an international student population of more than 3,000 from around 100 countries, the University prides itself on its global outlook. The university is passionate about creating opportunities and its extensive outreach programme is designed to enable NTU to be a vehicle for social mobility. NTU is among the UK’s top five recruiters of students from disadvantaged backgrounds and was awarded University of the Year in the UK Social Mobility Awards 2019. A total of 82% of its graduates go on to graduate entry employment or graduate entry education or training within six months of leaving. Student satisfaction is high: NTU achieved an 87% satisfaction score in the 2019 National Student Survey.

    A total of 82% of its graduates go on to graduate entry employment or graduate entry education or training within six months of leaving. Student satisfaction is high: NTU achieved an 87% satisfaction score in the 2019 National Student Survey.

    The University of Nottingham is a research-intensive university with a proud heritage, consistently ranked among the world's top 100. Studying at the University of Nottingham is a life-changing experience and we pride ourselves on unlocking the potential of our 44,000 students - Nottingham was named both Sports and International University of the Year in the 2019 Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide, was awarded gold in the TEF 2017 and features in the top 20 of all three major UK rankings. We have a pioneering spirit, expressed in the vision of our founder Sir Jesse Boot, which has seen us lead the way in establishing campuses in China and Malaysia - part of a globally connected network of education, research and industrial engagement. We are ranked eighth for research power in the UK according to REF 2014. We have six beacons of research excellence helping to transform lives and change the world; we are also a major employer and industry partner - locally and globally.

Published on 30 April 2020
  • Subject area: Sciences including sport sciences
  • Category: Press office; Research; School of Science and Technology