Published 7 April 2020.
DE&S staff are supporting frontline care workers by producing vital PPE
DE&S colleagues are producing vital personal protective equipment (PPE) for frontline healthcare workers battling the COVID-19 pandemic in the UK and US.
PPE is relied upon by doctors and nurses treating patients in hospitals around the world and is currently in very high demand.
Wing Commander Justin Blackie – the C130J Hercules programme delivery manager and deputy team leader – and F-35 Lightning UK national deputy, Group Captain Willy Hackett, are both doing their bit.
Wg Cdr Blackie has joined 3D Crowd UK – a nationwide volunteer organisation crowdsourcing 3-D printer owners to produce PPE components – and is making face shields for front-line health workers.
As of April 10, 659 active members were printing plastic parts for 100,000 face shields, which will go to NHS hospitals, GP surgeries and nursing homes.
The parts are transferred to a central facility in Sheffield for assembly. The masks are then distributed to NHS workers on the front line.
“I run the printer day and night, getting up at various times to unload and load. So far, I have printed 51 supports for the face masks, which take up to four hours each, or 15 hours in a stack. Each mask costs approximately £1 to make”
After this first phase of production, the next phase is for each region to focus and support local requirements.
Wg Cdr Blackie said: “Having only acquired the 3D printer recently, I’d only ever used it to print bedroom door signs and film characters for my children. When COVID-19 became a pandemic, I decided to turn my hobby into more of a productive pursuit.
“I run the printer day and night, getting up at various times to unload and load. So far, I have printed 51 supports for the face masks, which take up to four hours each, or 15 hours in a stack, depending on the type of plastic used and the resolution selected.
“The plastic is fed into the printer through 1kg spools of 1.75mm diameter plastic. Each mask costs approximately £1 to make.
“Knowing that what I’m doing is helping medical professionals stay better protected is reward enough but seeing the resolve and coming together of society in adversity is special and is akin to working alongside so many professionals within Defence.”
To find out more, donate or get involved, go to https://www.3dcrowd.uk.
Gp Capt Hackett is based at the F-35 Joint Programme Office in Crystal City, Arlington, USA. The US is now the epicentre of the COVID-19 pandemic and PPE is needed there more than ever.
Gp Capt Hackett has mobilised spouses of UK F-35 personnel and members of the British Embassy Spouses Association (BESA), who are using their sewing skills to make face masks from surgical grade material. They are being distributed to local healthcare workers.