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School manufactures facemasks for frontline health workers

Thursday 2 April 2020

Although student projects are on hold for the time being, the design technology workshop at The Grammar School at Leeds (GSAL) is open for business during the coronavirus outbreak.

The workshop’s 3D printers are working at full stretch as John Bagshaw, the school’s head of design technology, responds to the demand for vital personal protective equipment (PPE) to keep frontline healthcare workers safe.

Recent news reports have highlighted the difficulties faced by hospitals, GPs and other care providers in sourcing PPE for their key workers. At the same time, in schools and colleges around the country there are 3D printers and laser cutters sitting idle.

These machines can be used to make visors from materials that many schools already have in stock for DT projects that can’t now be completed. The basic design uses PETg or ABS filament and elastic to make a headband to which an acetate or PET sheet is attached as a face shield.

With many healthcare professionals among the school’s parents and alumni, the school is already handling all the orders it can fulfil simply through word of mouth. Over 130 visors have been delivered to Leeds Teaching Hospitals Trust and GP surgeries across Leeds and beyond in the past week.

John is now planning to increase production to around 100 masks a day, having sourced a new design that can be made more quickly on the laser cutter.

John said: “The masks go as quickly as I can make them. We are in full production mode with three printers churning out six masks an hour. It’s all hands on deck, with colleagues giving their time to help out in between their remote teaching sessions with students.”

GSAL has also donated over 330 pairs of protective goggles, normally used in science and design technology lessons, to hospitals and health centres.

While the school has the machinery required to keep manufacturing vital PPE for our health workers, supplies of materials are running low. We would be grateful for supplies of polypropylene sheet or acetate sheet or any CEL/Robox 3d printing filament. Please email if you can help

**UPDATE** We have been overwhelmed with offers of financial help to pay for materials, which we are very grateful for. To make a financial donation for materials please click here.

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