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Bucks schools putting 3D printers to good use

They have been making useful kit to protect frontline workers during the coronavirus crisis.

Published by Dan Gooding at 7:30pm 30th April 2020. 6-minute read.

Bucks schools putting 3D printers to good use

Schools across Buckinghamshire are making use of their 3D printers during the lockdown.

Further education settings are also playing their part to support the NHS and other local health services to help keep their frontline staff safe during the coronavirus pandemic, with an incredible effort including using their 3D printers to create safety visors for the NHS or by donating PPE equipment to support healthcare staff.

But some parts are missing for some, particularly the clear visor part of the shields. We've got an appeal at the end of this article.

Stowe School 3D printers
Stowe School 3D printers

Thanks to the fantastic work of schools from all parts of the county, hundreds of visors have now been produced and distributed to our frontline healthcare professionals. And many local businesses played their part too, donating items such as lab coats, goggles and gloves, after hearing about the work schools were doing from parents or teachers.

Many schools across the county, including Buckingham School, Stowe School, Westbury School, Sir Thomas Fremantle School, Holmer Green School, Sir William Borlase's School, Wycombe Grammar School, Wycombe High School, Highworth Combined School and Sir William Ramsay School have also produced (using their 3D printers) or donated essential PPE equipment such as goggles and lab coats.

Buckinghamshire UTC has also donated 30 protective goggles and their Principal Sarah Valentine personally bought six lab coats from Amazon for delivery to Stoke Mandeville Hospital.

Cllr Anita Cranmer, Buckinghamshire Council's Cabinet Member for Education, had this to say:

"I'm hugely impressed by the time, effort and heart that our education community has put into creating and donating PPE for our healthcare workers.

"Also, I want to thank all of our schools not just for everything they're doing to continue to educate our children and look after our key workers children, but for going the extra mile too.

"This is a fantastic example of how Buckinghamshire is coming together and a tribute to our hardworking and dedicated healthcare workers who are helping to keep us all safe during these challenging times. Another amazing initiative that shows just how #ProudofBucks we are."

Beachborough School 3D printed visors
Beachborough School 3D printed visors

In addition, Aylesbury High School, The Grange School in Aylesbury, Beachborough School at Westbury, and the University of Buckingham have also got involved in the production and donation of PPE to local NHS trusts.

Giles Scoble, Headteacher of Aylesbury High School (AHS), said:

"This coronavirus lockdown and the urgent request for PPE from the NHS and other care providers has given AHS and others the opportunity to show 'what they are made of'.

"Our staff (both teaching and non-teaching) have willingly come into school, even through the Easter holidays, to allow key workers to carry out their essential and at times dangerous work. Likewise, we have scoured our Science and Technology labs and willingly given boxes of PPE equipment including lab coats, goggles and disposable gloves.

"When we heard that face shields were in short supply, our Technology Department led by Mark Potkin and Jonathan Cook set up 3D printing and laser cutting components for these shields.

"I am incredibly proud of how the AHS community has responded and want to publicly recognise the brave and selfless courage of our healthcare professionals."

AHS shields

Vince Murray, Headteacher of The Grange School, commented:

"As a school we were more than willing to respond to the call for PPE equipment through the collection of goggles and laboratory coats. It was also lovely to see some of students making 'scrub bags' for the NHS, alongside their teacher (Miss Friend) whilst they were in school last Friday.

"We see ourselves as a community school and serve families from all over Aylesbury. We were only too happy to contribute, in a small way, to maintaining the safety of other key workers looking after those in our hospitals, and providing essential care for others at a time when they need it most.

"As a member of a Cooperative Trust, some of our key values are round self-help and self-responsibility and it is times like these we need to pull together and be stronger together."

Beachborough's Headmaster, Christian Pritchard, said:

"We are very lucky to have the equipment and resources that can support our wider community in this way.

"This collective team effort has provided a great deal of positively, purpose and a real sense of collective achievement and teamwork for those involved. It is a great privilege to be able to help and to give back to our local community."

Dr Anthony Wallersteiner, Head of Stowe School, commented: 

"We have been so pleased that we have been able to support our local NHS hospitals, GP surgeries and local hospices since the beginning of the Covid-19 crisis in some small ways.

"The school has donated equipment from our science, design technology and art departments, including 70 water resistant lab coats, hundred of pairs of safety goggles and PPE equipment normally used by staff and pupils at Stowe.

"Furthermore, our Head of Design Technology, Martin Quinn, has set up the School's 3D printers to produce much-needed visors, with batches of these being delivered to hospitals throughout Buckinghamshire, Northampton, Bedford and Banbury."

University of Buckingham 3D printing visors (1)
University of Buckingham 3D printing visors

Dean Jones, University of Buckingham's Partnerships and Outreach Manager, commented on their production of safety visors:

"They do take time to print, but we aim to produce over 200. The 3D printer is currently working from my home whilst the university remains on lockdown, where printing continues all the way through the day and into the early hours.

"The thing that keeps me printing them until the early hours is the thought that each and every visor will help protect the life of another frontline life saver." 

An appeal for help

AVA face shields
Aylesbury Vale Academy have been making shields as well

The Aylesbury Vale Academy have also been getting involved and have donated 200 visors to Stoke Mandeville Hospital.

But what they have struggled with is finding the clear plastic to turn these into full face shields.

Annie Bacchus, from the school, said:

"Everywhere is sold out and the company we ordered them from are only contactable via email with a generic response that someone will reply in 3-4 days!

"The sheets we need have to be 200 micron thick, so quite specific."

If you can help provide the acetate, get in touch with Annie via email.

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