Mark Wrigley: 3D printing headbands for medical visors
Yorkshire Branch Chair, Mark Wrigley, shares his story of responding to the shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE) by 3D printing headbands for medical visors from his kitchen table.
Just before the lockdown I moved temporarily from my home in Sheffield to Otley (near Leeds) to be with family. And like any good physicist I took some bits of kit with me, including my 3D printer.
As the Yorkshire Branch Chair I’ve worked with the Otley Maker Space for a couple of years. Members of the maker space and I started to discuss ways we could use our technical skills and equipment to respond to the shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE) that’s vital for keyworkers.
Using an open source design, we’ve started to produce 3D printed headbands for medical visors which are attached to a sheet of acetate, forming a protective face shield. We have six 3D printers between us; each can produce one headband an hour, straight from our kitchen tables. Slack and Zoom have been vital in sharing research and the success and failures of experimentation.
Identifying the need and delivery is an ongoing challenge. But I’ve always believed that physicists have more gumption than most, so through our personal networks and social media we’ve been able to identify care homes, hospitals and surgeries in need.
Many of us are delivering visors directly. I recently delivered some to a Sheffield hospital after being contacted by a nurse who told me that they had to re-sterilise and reuse visors due to a lack of equipment. We have now set up a Go Fund Me page to raise funds for more materials so that we can continue to respond to the PPE shortage in the local area.
I began to experiment with 3D printing when it first became available and was really excited by the prospect of people being able to design something in the morning and have it in their hands in the afternoon. I would’ve never thought that 5 years later I would be part of a group using this technology to respond to a global pandemic.