Producing 900 face shields in the war against an invisible killer

The Sevenoaks School Technology department has been working to produce and supply vital PPE (personal protective equipment) throughout the UK lockdown.

Around 900 visors and surgical mask buckles produced by our Technology teachers have been made for frontline NHS staff, care homes, homeless shelters and refugee centres.

With the Covid-19 pandemic described by Health Secretary Matt Hancock as a ‘war against an invisible killer’, the delivery of PPE to frontline staff has become of utmost importance.

Alex Colenso, the Head of Technology, explains that the key for producing materials on this scale is the versatility of 3D printing.

With Technology teacher Chris Yelf, Alex has utilised all eight of the school’s 3D printers, running them round the clock and adopting techniques to accelerate production. One such example is isolating individual components of the face shield, such as the orange headband, and stacking them on the bed of the 3D printer so that they interlink with each other, ensuring maximum possible use of the material.

Alex and Chris’s innovative approach, such as using jigs and formers to cut edges, perforate and mould material, has also greatly increased the volume of production.

Sevenoaks is producing PPE for the 3D Crowd UK organisation, a group of volunteers working to plug the gaps in the traditional PPE supply chain. With a coordination role for 3D Crowd in the South East, Alex also ensures that donated face shields are compliant.

The introduction of new standard operating procedures which stipulate rigorous hygiene guidelines has coincided with the NHS requirement for visors with a European certification, and as a result, designers of the prototype are now working towards securing a patent.

3D Crowd anticipate a greater production of PPE for life after the lockdown, with face shields being supplied to private care homes and other frontline workers. We hope that Sevenoaks will continue to serve as a coordination hub, supported by the dedication of the whole school community.

Sachi Gwalani, L6

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