Innovative 3D printing hubs launched to drive protective equipment production at scale

Thought leaders collaborate in united mission to provide NHS with the vital PPE they require during the COVID-19 crisis

LONDON, 2020:As the need for personal protective equipment (PPE) reaches critical in the UK, an emergency working group - SHIELD (Sustainable Hub for Innovation, Execution, Launch and Distribution) - brings industry leaders and experts together in umbrella collaboration to create innovative solutions to meet the PPE demand, including cutting edge ‘printing hubs’ in London this week.

Currently for every patient being treated in an Intensive Care Unit (ICU), between 30-40 sets of PPE are needed, per day. That means, over the projected course of the COVID-19 pandemic, one ICU could use up to 9.2 million sets of PPE to protect their staff from the virus.* SHIELD, emerging two weeks ago as a best-practice collaboration of independent PPE campaigns, came together to build supply streams in response to this need. Developing new designs for sustainable masks and visors in addition to other critical PPE on a mass scale, SHIELD’s aim is to support any coordinated national effort under one single mission to protect NHS frontline staff in the fight against COVID-19.

Innovation Specialist Dr Kate Hammer at Hero Support comments: “Within SHIELD we are collaborating to develop responsive supply streams for visors, gowns, ventilator consumables and other mission-critical medical devices." Project Director Dr Alisa Pearlstone adds "We're actively pulling in our industry contacts, from raw materials and textiles to technology”.

The first hub to go live this week, situated at Makerversity in Somerset House, London, with support from Farnell is designed to generate 1,700 visors per day from 3D printers, funded by non-profit organisation HEROES who’s ‘Help Them Help Us’ initiative supports the physical, mental and day to day needs of NHS staff across the nation. HEROES Co-founder Dr Dominic Pimenta says: “As we try to keep up with the effect of the virus on the UK, supplies are in demand and there is a need for sustainable solutions. Being an ICU doctor myself I am in a position to test our products on the ground giving us the opportunity to be agile and evolve with the virus each day. For Heroes, it was a no-brainer to be involved as supporting the NHS frontline with immediacy and impact is why we exist.”

Leader of Makerversity effort Nate Petre, who has been working in collaboration with Makerversity’s design experts, also comments: “Practical people around the world, enabled by digital tools, platforms to collaborate and low-cost desktop prototyping and manufacturing have volunteered to help fight the spread of COVID-19. I felt like Makerversity, a space filled with tools and the members’ enormous creativity could help the government create useful solutions to the growing crisis.”

A second hub is due to be launched by the National 3D Printing Society (N3DPS), by the end of April, anticipating production of tens of thousands more. N3DPS Co-Founder Mason Rowbottom says: “Being able to bring our community into the national effort, SHIELD has enabled us to ensure our makers are providing PPE safely and efficiently.”

The expert collaboration also includes individuals from NEAD, Med Supply Drive UK, Helpful Engineering,, Women in 3D Printing, Do Some Good and The Industry Prints. As the crisis continues to grow further designers, printers and suppliers are needed to help streamline efforts in a bid to get equipment into the helping hands that really need it.

Campaign Director at Paul Ford says: “Being part of the collaborative team sitting behind SHIELD is an incredible honour. Working with innovative and creative minds while fighting the effect of Covid-19 is an experience to behold. Supporting our NHS Heroes could never be more important. Contractors Appeal has reached out to the entire construction industry and beyond to seek their support; the response has been incredible”.

Advisor for SHIELD and MSD-UK Committee Member Ro Sharma says “The fantastic effort of collaboration and coordination between a great many talented and focused individuals will make SHIELD a force for good in the response to the current crisis. The united ‘umbrella effort’ of campaigns will be of huge support to any coordinated national efforts to supply PPE to the NHS and care workers.”

To join the effort, donate materials and equipment, or to help fund any of the initiatives, visit here to find out more:

*Source: ICU, Royal Derby Hospital