RS Components (RS), the trading brand of Electrocomponents plc (LSE: ECM), a global multi-channel provider of industrial and electronic products and solutions, and sister company of Allied Electronics & Automation (Allied), has embarked on a partnership with the National 3D Printing Society (N3DPS) in the UK to enable frontline health workers to quickly access vital personal protection equipment (PPE) as they tirelessly continue their efforts to combat the COVID-19 virus. To directly support this urgent action, RS has teamed up with its RS PRO supplier to donate 400kg of PLA filament to N3DPS from end-of-reel-supplies. This quantity of filament will be enough to produce up to 20,000 visor frames and is available to users who join the N3DPS campaign.
Over the past two weeks, RS has reached out through its DesignSpark engineering platform to the 930,000-strong DesignSpark community, urging members with access to a 3D printer to join an urgent campaign to produce NHS-accepted protective visors, to help shield medical and care professionals at high risk of contracting the coronavirus.
RS has also been developing a 3D printing farm in Corby, Northamptonshire, which aims to produce over 1,000 visors per week for this initiative. N3DPS has kindly agreed to loan a number of its machines to support this. The printing farm is due to commence production during week commencing 20 April, boosting the number of 3D printers making visor frames for use by health professionals across the country.
N3DPS, a UK-based non-profit social enterprise, has developed a standard design for the visor, which is simple, quick and inexpensive to produce, and is coordinating this collective action involving a network of people and organisations across the UK. Through collaboration with official NHS suppliers, this design has been accepted for use by the NHS and provides assurance that proper sanitisation procedures are followed before being delivered to frontline staff in urgent need of PPE. Since the beginning of April, more than 1,500 people have volunteered their time and 3D printers to produce these visors, with weekly production capacity now exceeding 30,000.
Another collaborator playing a key role in the N3DPS initiative is Northampton-based plastics manufacturer igus®, which is acting as the main distribution hub and providing its facilities and staff to assemble the visors. The company has also donated the plastic sheets that are added to each 3D printed frame before they are distributed by MedSupplyDriveUK.
Mike Bray, VP of Innovation at RS, commented: “In this global pandemic it is critical that we all work together with the same shared goal of keeping frontline staff, health workers and patients safe. This collaborative effort among the 3D printing community will go some way to providing PPE that is currently in such desperately short supply amid this crisis.”
If you have a 3D printer, and would like to help, please join the Slack channel at: https://national3d.slack.com/join/shared_invite/zt-d17ch2mr-UBQ7rHz0XFNFCPmHEHC5bg
To produce each complete visor and deliver it safely costs £1.50. To protect 10 staff will cost just £15.00. The National 3D Printing Society has a Just Giving page for any donations to help towards these costs. Please help if you can at https://www.justgiving.com/campaign/N3DPS.