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University of Portsmouth making face shields to protect health professionals from coronavirus

The University of Portsmouth is making face shields to protect healthcare professionals on the front line of the fight against the coronavirus pandemic. 

Over 1,000 shields have been supplied to Queen Alexandra Hospital in Portsmouth and other NHS Trusts to allow their front line staff, from anaesthetists to nurses, to work safely. A further 1,500 face shields are being made for Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service and Hampshire Constabulary.

The face shields prevent the wearer touching their face and provide a barrier if a patient was to sneeze or cough. The shields are safe, easy to use and fit on top of the approved personal protective equipment (PPE) equipment that healthcare workers are using - providing an additional layer of protection between staff and patients.

In comparison to standard face shield designs, which take one-to-two hours to produce using standard 3D printing technology, the new laser cut design cuts the time it takes to produce a mask to less than 30 seconds. This could allow the team to make around 1,000 masks in a day.

Ted Turnbull, Senior Lecturer in Creative Technologies in the Faculty of Creative and Cultural Industries, is leading the collaborative research effort. He said: “The design and manufacturing method will allow the University to produce thousands of shields, so that front line medical staff in the city and across the UK will be able to benefit from the protection offered by the shield. We will continue to make the shields to meet the demand for this crucial piece of equipment.”

To address this critical need for PPE, a team from the University’s Faculty of Creative and Cultural Industries and Faculty of Technology are collaborating to make the face shields through a laser cutting process.

The shield design was created by John Daltry (whose wife is a Diabetes Nurse Specialist at Queen Alexandra Hospital), a technician in the Faculty of Creative and Cultural Industries. The face shield has two components: a sturdy plastic headband frame and a clear plastic sheet that clips into the headband. The material can be disinfected without harming it so they can be used again rather than being disposed of after one use.

Ted Turnbull said: “We have been able to draw on the creative and technical talent of staff from across the University to respond to the challenge faced by the NHS and the wider healthcare sector. This face shield will help reduce the risk of infection to staff and to the patients under their care. The team effort has been phenomenal. When we come out of the other side of the pandemic we can, as a University and a community, say ‘we did everything we could’.”

The University of Portsmouth’s design is freely available to download for anyone to be able to manufacture and produce the face shield.

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