LYMM High School’s Design & Technology team have manufactured over 1300 face shields to help protect frontline staff during the coronavirus pandemic.
Working with Warrington Borough Council the life-saving PPE has been distributed to those in need across the town.
Head of Design & Technology Thomas Beardsall said: “At the end of March, it was quickly becoming apparent that there was a national shortage of essential personal protective equipment (PPE) for frontline staff in hospitals and care homes.
“I am a member of a few Facebook groups for Design & Technology (DT) teachers, and messages were starting to come in from doctors, nurses and care workers asking if it was possible for D&T teachers to manufacture face visors.
“Quite quickly the Design & Technology Association shared a Computer Aided Design (CAD) file for a laser-cut face visor. This file has been used by D&T departments across the country and around the world.
“The CAD file consists of three different parts: a headband, forehead spacer and an adjustable strap, which are cut from a thin, flexible plastic called polypropylene. A clear PVC sheet is then hand cut to clip into place on the headband. The benefits of both these plastics are that they have good chemical resistance, which means they can be cleaned with antibacterial spray to remove any contamination to allow for multiple uses.
“The design is quite intricate so a laser cutter is the perfect machine for manufacture. We are able to cut six headbands out on an A2 polypropylene sheet in under 10 minutes. Full assembly for each face visor takes a couple of minutes.”
He added: “The DT department at Lymm is fortunate to have a new high-spec laser. We were also able to order the materials needed very quickly so we could start manufacturing as many visors as possible.
“We started on Friday 3rd of April, when I initially assembled 70 visors. Whilst manufacturing the visors, I put together a ‘How To’ video explaining the process. This has subsequently been viewed over 9000 times on the school’s Facebook page.
“Since then, manufacturing of the visors has really taken off! As of May 7, the school has manufactured over 1300 face visors. This has been made possible with support from Mr Hill, the technician for the DT Department, who has worked tirelessly operating the laser cutter, as well as staff and students who have been in school during the closure helping to assemble the visors.
“With hundreds of DT departments across the country manufacturing PPE there has subsequently been a shortage of material from our usual distributors. However, through Facebook we have been able to make requests and appeals to the local community to help keep us supplied with materials. The response received when we have asked for donations of PVC acetate and polypropylene has been overwhelming. It’s been fantastic to see what a great community spirit there is within Lymm. Without this help we wouldn’t have been able to continue manufacturing.
“In order to ensure fairness and some level of prioritisation we have worked with Warrington Borough Council who have taken charge of distributing the PPE all schools are producing. We are driven to help protect our frontline medical staff and care workers as much as we can and will continue to manufacture the face visors for as long as we have materials and they are needed,” added Mr Beardsall.
Funding for some of the materials was made possible thanks to local resident Stephen Williams from the “Leave no one behind” group in the village which helped raise over £2,000.