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College 3D printing equipment for NHS frontline

South Devon College has been creating 100 face shields to protect staff at Torbay Hospital who are dealing with the coronavirus pandemic.

The team, based at the College’s Hi Tech & Digital Centre, are using state-of-the-art fused filament fabrication 3D printers to produce 'Face Shield Headbands'. 

With limited access to the College’s Paignton campus, Engineering teaching staff including a PhD student, are working remotely on the production.

Laurence Frewin, Principal and CEO at South Devon College said: “We’re proud that our dedicated staff have been innovative and able to step up so quickly to support the call for help from our wonderful NHS at this time of national emergency.

“The Hi Tech & Digital Centre was always intended to provide a hub for the community, giving access to the latest technology and training for the people of South Devon and it’s great to see our excellent lecturers and technical specialists using not just the practical application of the skills they are teaching our students but also being great role models showing their values in playing a part in supporting the community of South Devon. They are really inspiring.

“It was never expected that the new centre would ever need to play an essential role such as this but the fact that the equipment is now being used for such an important task is incredible."

Programme Coordinator in Hi-Tech Engineering at the College and PhD student, Ben Bryant, is leading the technical development of this project. 

For his PhD, he is researching how we can tackle the issue of contamination and sustainability of general thermoset plastic polymers. He wants to find a way we can recycle those plastics into 3D printing and additive manufacturing material for secondary use.

The College have called out to their extensive network of local business for support.

They have engaged with Partington Print in Paignton who offered to cut, punch, and supply the clear visor element of the face mask. 

There is also going to be discussions with Darthaven Marina who will potentially be able to supply the elastic cord which will provide flexible adjustment to the visor head band.

Adel Jones, Director of Transformation and Partnerships at Torbay and South Devon NHS Foundation Trust, said: “It’s fantastic to have this level of innovation available locally. We cannot thank South Devon College enough for providing us with such fantastic support in producing the visors so quickly.

“We have been developing our partnership working with South Devon College over recent months and we’re now seeing the benefits of this collaborative working. 

"Within two days of seeking support, the College team had produced a prototype which we could show our clinical teams, and we’re now in a position where we can start producing these at a greater volume.

“This is another example of the amazing response we’ve seen from our local community during these unprecedented times to keep our patients and staff safe.”

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