The race to get essential PPE to frontline NHS staff has stepped up a gear with engineers at Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) designing and manufacturing a re-usable protective visor.
Through collaboration with other companies, JLR has set a target of producing 5,000 visors a week for NHS trusts across the country. The firm said it intends to make open source CAD design files available to additive manufacturers and suppliers in order to produce many more protective visors over the coming weeks.
The NHS-approved visor design has been developed in consultation with healthcare professionals for rapid prototype printing at JLR’s Advanced Product Creation Centre in Gaydon. Rapid prototyping technology has enabled the engineers to work through several iterations of the design in under a week, allowing medical staff to provide feedback and improve the design.
It comes as a national shortage of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for NHS staff on the frontline in the fight against Covid-19 has resulted in many key workers suffering injury from wearing uncomfortable equipment for long hours or going without vital protective wear.
Pre-line trials took place with healthcare professionals at the Great Western Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and South Warwickshire NHS Foundation Trust before assembly began at Jaguar Land Rover in Warwickshire on 31 March. Each face visor can be easily dismantled and cleaned before being used again.
In a statement, Ben Wilson, Jaguar Land Rover Additive Manufacturing and Prototype Design Manager, said: “It’s been a real team effort, we’ve trialled different materials and improved the design over several iterations in consultation with real doctors and nurses on the frontline – this has allowed us to create something unique and truly fit-for-purpose.
“While this is a small effort, it is vital we help as many people as we can by utilising our resources. Collaborative teams working at Jaguar Land Rover, along with the wider computer-aided design and 3D printing community, will continue to do what we can to help healthcare workers.”
According to JLR, the clear shield is manufactured using chemically-resistant polycarbonate, which is trimmed down by RGH Rubber Limited using a multi-cutter machine. Created using laser sintering, jet fusion and FDM processes, the team made sure the cap top can be worn comfortably and safely for many hours. A secure elastic strap – provided by Beacon Trimmings of Coventry – holds the visor in place and can be quickly and easily replaced to avoid contamination. Final assembly has been undertaken by a skeleton team of four Jaguar Land Rover employees in a specially designed clean area.