Cambridge, May 7th, 2020
In response to the national shortage of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), Cambridge Design Partnership is working on a project to create 1,000 face visors a day
A team from Cambridge Design Partnership (CDP) is helping to manufacture protective face visors for healthcare workers during the Covid-19 outbreak.
CDP staff based at the firm’s HQ in Toft, Cambridgeshire are working pro bono on a project called NHS Visors.
“Our role is to ensure that the face visors are being made to an acceptable standard of quality and safety,” said Jonathan Wilkins, senior consultant at CDP, who is leading the team working on the project.
“We have drawn on our expertise in designing medical devices to ensure that the emergency production line is creating visors that comply with health and safety regulatory standards.”
The NHS Visors project has been set up by Warwickshire engineering and machinery development company 3P Innovation. “When we heard they were creating the visors, we were excited to help out,” said Jonathan.
The project was launched when it became clear the country was perilously short of PPE for hospitals and care homes. Initially, the project assembled visors using 3D-printed components made by hundreds of businesses and individuals with 3D printers.
When 3P scaled up its manufacturing processes to deliver larger quantities, CDP helped by navigating through the rapidly changing Covid-19 emergency quality regulations: “Compliance with regulations is needed but in a very tight time frame,” explained Jonathan.
“This is a safety critical product and is used by healthcare workers tackling Covid-19 at the frontline. Although there are emergency relaxations on legislation in place at the moment due to the desperate shortage of PPE, it is crucial that face visors sent to frontline workers are fit for purpose.”
CDP’s work for the project included developing a strategy for regulatory compliance and testing, advising on quality processes required for the manufacturing process, and assessing the ergonomics of the finished product to check it is practical and comfortable to use. “It’s our aim to ensure the visors are both effective and comply with legislation,” said Jonathan. “Indeed, the visors have recently been awarded a certificate for compliance with the European Standard for PPE eye protection.”
CDP’s help has been “hugely appreciated”, said Simon Strothers of 3P Innovation who is working on the NHS Visors project as a volunteer. “We are very grateful that our friends at CDP offered to help out, working so swiftly to make our new visors safe and legal. We have been amazed how quickly we have collectively got this project off the ground.
“We are supplying the visors free of charge wherever they are needed, taking the orders direct here at our HQ and delivering them with a team of motorbike volunteers. In some cases, healthcare staff have literally broken down in tears to receive the visors. They are life-saving pieces of kit in this current epidemic. Many care homes and NHS centres simply don’t have enough to ensure staff safety.”
The NHS Visors project initially created 4,500 visors made on 3D printers. “This is quite an achievement when you consider each one takes hours to print out on a 3D printer,” says Simon.
“Then as the severity of the shortage became clear, we appealed for help to set up higher-volume production. Mondelez International, owner of the famous Cadbury chocolate brand, agreed to step in and fund the purchase of injection moulding tools for the key visor components. We can now make injection-moulded headbands for the visors and we have also purchased a clicker press cutter to create the clear visor itself.
“At this stage, CDP’s input into ensuring that production meets the accepted safety standards was invaluable. We can now make visors in seconds rather than hours.”
The volunteers are now producing over 8,000 face visors a week. “We offer them to anyone who needs them,” said Simon. “If hospitals, care homes or other emergency healthcare workers would like some, please do get in touch.”
Staff at CDP are also working on a range of Covid-19 projects including ventilators and diagnostic devices, as well as the NHS Visors project. “We are only too pleased that the NHS Visors project asked us to help build them a better PPE product at short notice,” said Jonathan. “We are highly motivated to use our expertise in whatever way we can to help overcome the pandemic.”
To request free emergency visors, frontline workers can apply using the button below;
For more information on the NHS Visors project and to make a donation to support the work, visit here
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