Dr Alex Fergusson and Dr Declan Carolan (Mechanical Engineering academic visitors from FAC Technology) have been making face visors for the NHS.
The partly 3D printed visors are used by healthcare staff as PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) during the current COVID-19 pandemic and they are being provided by Dr Fergusson and his team on a voluntary basis.
Dr Fergusson and Dr Carolan are visiting lecturers on the fourth year Composites course in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at Imperial; the latter is one of the first five research leaders in industry to win a UKRI Future Leaders Fellowship.
Their team at FAC Technology received an initial request of 100 visors from the NHS Nightingale Hospital in London, so that new hospital staff could be trained in donning and doffing PPE safely. Dr Fergusson and Dr Carolan made the visors themselves together with the company's Office Manager Amanda and her family.
After feedback from NHS professionals, including the Infection Prevention and Control team at Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust (ICHT), the visor design was improved and developed further, and many more batches of equipment were donated to other hospitals. Dr Fergusson says: "We've supplied 100 of our Nightingale design to Richmond as well, along with 1000 of our newer version. They've asked for 2000 more. We've also been giving them out to other NHS trusts as nurses and doctors request them." More recently, Dr Fergusson personally delivered 150 visors to a medical team in Havering.
To make the process of 3D printing visor parts quicker and more efficient, Dr Fergusson has teamed up with Dr Dan Plant, a PhD alumnus of the Department of Mechanical Engineering at Imperial and founder of Rheon Labs. Dr Plant's company is using their in-house injection moulding processes to help scale up visor production. The visors are then assembled with the help of volunteers from Imperial, coordinated by the Department of Life Sciences' Technical Operations Manager, Allison Hunter.
This collaborative effort will continue to deliver protective face visors to NHS trusts in and around London. Meanwhile, the visor design is also freely available to download, so that any healthcare trust in the UK or elsewhere can initiate mass production with a contractor.
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