Coronavirus: School equipment used to make face shields for medical workers

Fred Woodhead, head of design and technology, with the 3D printer, face shield and buckle.

Fred Woodhead, head of design and technology, with the 3D printer, face shield and buckle. - Credit: Archant

Face shields made by Design and Technology staff from The King’s School in Ottery are being used by NHS workers at the Royal Devon & Exeter Hospital and the Coleridge Medical Centre.

The shields, needed to protect medical staff from the coronavirus, have visors made from transparent PVC sheets, with frames built by 3D printers.

Production began at the end of March and by Monday (April 20), 100 shields had been distributed to nurses, doctors and pharmacists.

Headteacher Rob Gammon said: “School had officially closed to the majority of pupils and the next day we were in school clearing the workshops to make way for a major refurbishment before we worked from home. 

“All four of the department’s 3D printers were taken home by the department teachers and technicians and have been printing day and night ever since to create the frames for face shields.

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“The 3D printers work by melting a plastic material and drawing shapes, building up a three-dimensional shape layer by layer.

“We have been cutting out the visors from PVC sheets and assembling the face shields.

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“Each shield takes about seven hours to print and assemble, after which they are gathered and distributed to medical staff in response to requests.

“We have also been printing ‘buckles’ which hold the elastic straps of face masks to prevent the elastic cutting into the backs of wearers’ ears.

“These are much faster to make than the face shields, but we have more demand than we can supply for either.

“It has been a pleasure to support our local and wider community with the department’s equipment.

“The feedback we have received demonstrates that these products are vitally important in making the work of our local medical staff much safer and comfortable.

“Solving real world problems is what design and technology is all about and at King’s we are always on the lookout for a relevant case study to use with our students.

“All of our GCSE and A level projects use real clients, and if we can get involved in making products that could really help others in need then that is ideal.

“This Covid-19 crisis has highlighted the need for design and technology education in today’s curriculum, and we are proud of the way that The King’s school continues to invest in the subject.”

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