• Question: I want ask what have some of you engineers done to support the NHS and what ideas do you have to help provide and produce PPE for them?

    Asked by Murewa on 7 May 2020.
    • Photo: Kate Davies

      Kate Davies answered on 7 May 2020:


      Over the last few weeks my company has been working to support the NHS through production of face shields. As a 3D Printer operator I was able to support with development of the process and identification of resources. However our company wide production is still quite limited as the number of masks we can only really print 11 masks per day per printer. (This is much slower than if an injection mould tool where to be used).

      We were also working towards developing our own Ventilator system, which we have since put on hold as the NHS have reassessed their requirement.

      If you were looking to produce your own PPE I would recommend trying to adapt things that you may already have available. For example though the headbands of our face shield where printed we used laminating sheets as the main section.

      I hope this helps 🙂

      All the Best,

    • Photo: Alistair McConnell

      Alistair McConnell answered on 7 May 2020:

      In my job, we have been working on different parts of ventilators, on face masks and of course, stayed indoors and a safe distance from other people to not put any extra strain on the NHS.
      We have also tried to look further down the line to see what we can build that might be needed in the months to come and to avoid the shortages as we have seen.

    • Photo: Sophie Louth

      Sophie Louth answered on 7 May 2020:

      Engineers have been doing lots of things to support the NHS (and other key workers) because we think it is really important.
      I have been 3D printing visors, my research group has also been working on respirator masks so that the NHS can have more supplies.
      Other engineering firms have been working on making ventilators.
      A friend of mine normally makes sports clothes for a living, but he is making uniforms for doctors instead because they need more so that they can be washed more regularly.

    • Photo: Steve Addicott

      Steve Addicott answered on 7 May 2020:

      The company I work for were heavily involved in delivering the NHS Nightingale Hospital at NEC Birmingham. Although I wasn’t personally involved,our engineers, project managers and other professionals needed to exhibit strong team working, problem solving, compliance and good engineering practice to stand up the unit for the NHS.

      Of course all of the NHS Nightingales that have been mobilised were delivered by various similar companies across the UK, but as a profession the projects would have been delivered under the same criteria, with the same pride and the same urgency.

      Good luck in your pursuit of an engineering career.

    • Photo: Joy Furnival

      Joy Furnival answered on 7 May 2020: last edited 7 May 2020 1:22 pm

      Hi Murewa,
      I have been working in healthcare and in the NHS for the last 15 years as an improvement engineer and leader. I currently teach NHS staff at a university and in 3 weeks I will go back into an NHS leadership role to help in this crisis. Some of the internal NHS roles for PPE, using engineering thinking, have been about helping to sort out the distribution and supply chains for PPE, so that it is moved around the country as quickly as possible to get to the places needed. Engineering thinking has also been helpful to troubleshoot and solve problems encountered in doing that. I expect I will be helping to increase testing capacity for NHS staff when I return and using my improvement engineering and problem solving skills. These skills could also help to improve PPE production nearer the point of use if needed, e.g. through local supply chain establishment and new/adapted manufacturing set up.
      Another engineer in the NHS, that I know, led much of the building work, including oxygen supplies, piping, cleaning equipment, beds and electrical and plumbing work, as well as all the legal and professional issues related to building the Nightingale Hospital in Manchester.
      There are many varied, and important roles for engineers in the NHS. The NHS is a really exciting and rewarding place to work for engineers
      Thanks so much for your question

    • Photo: Frances Askill-Kirk

      Frances Askill-Kirk answered on 7 May 2020:


      A lot of my colleagues with access to 3D printers have been helping create parts for ventilators, which is very noble.

      a lot of automotive plants have also been used to create ventilators – instead of cars which has helped massively!

    • Photo: Helen Taylor

      Helen Taylor answered on 7 May 2020:

      Rolls-Royce is making both facemasks and helping make more ventilators for the NHS. Instead of coming up with new ideas, they’ve been busy solving the problem of scaling up production of current designs. This has meant they’re actually making extra ventilators rather than still trying to get the design approved.

    • Photo: Deane Sales

      Deane Sales answered on 7 May 2020:

      I & my company have been involved in various projects for the NHS during the Corona Virus Outbreak, this includes providing Servicing & Maintenance to local hospitals and care homes to ensure they are safe.

      We have also been involved in the design of temporary Fire Alarm & Nurse Call Systems within 6 Nightingale Hospitals in London, Bristol, Manchester, Birmingham, Jersey, Scotland & Yorkshire. This is something we are extremely proud to have been involved in and will continue to support the NHS in any way we can

    • Photo: Tom Stewart-Brackenridge

      Tom Stewart-Brackenridge answered on 7 May 2020:

      We have been very busy in the past few weeks, as we are an awning manufacturer we work with PVC and other materials on a daily basis, so it did not take us long to start producing safety screens and protective screen for shop counters, supermarkets, and any business which have regular face to face contact, now with more protection and safety.

    • Photo: Martin McKie

      Martin McKie answered on 11 May 2020:

      I volunteered via the Institute of Mechanical Engineers to work in one of the field hospitals that where created to help the NHS cope with the Covid 19 pandemic.

      However, the hospital in Birmingham wasn’t required.

      I have been creating online learning content for my employer so that we can all learn whilst working from home.

      The company I work for has donated vehicles and computers and is making PPE.

    • Photo: Helen Arch

      Helen Arch answered on 11 May 2020:

      I currently work in many hospitals within the NHS across the north west of England. Other colleagues from Schneider are also doing the same.
      We look after the building management system at the hospitals to make sure certain aspects like the supply of air into the wards is safe and clean for both patients and staff.

    • Photo: Colin Donaldson

      Colin Donaldson answered on 11 May 2020:

      My company over the last few weeks has been working to support the NHS by producing ventilators and personal protective equipment using 3D printers for all staff!

    • Photo: Rohin Titmarsh

      Rohin Titmarsh answered on 12 May 2020:

      At WMG we’ve donated all our PPE to the local branches of the NHS (gloves and masks etc.) and using 3D printers that we have a few of our technicians our 3D printing visors for face shields. One of our PhD students did some research on how to print them faster which has been really useful!
      We’ve also been involved in the Ventilator Challenge, which is a group of companies and organisations that has come together to figure out how ventilators can be quickly designed and manufactured. Some of our technicians and engineers have been quality checking what’s been produced before being sent off to the NHS.

    • Photo: Simon Porter

      Simon Porter answered on 13 May 2020:

      Personally, I’ve been following the guidlines, staying at home and social distancing when I do go out. However, our company has a 3D printer, and we’ve been contributing to the production of face masks along with some other companies in our area.
      It might not be much, but every little helps!!

    • Photo: Iulia Motoc

      Iulia Motoc answered on 14 May 2020:

      The consultancy firm I work for is very committed to help the NHS during this difficult period. We are donating a percentage of the money we get from clients.

    • Photo: Ken Mollison

      Ken Mollison answered on 15 May 2020:

      As a controls engineer there is not much I can do to support the NHS directly, however I have the advantage of having my own company and am very interested in 3d imaging and printing. My local school is part of a network which supports our local hospital and I have been supporting their efforts by using my own 3D printer to make face visor parts, clips that are worn behind the head to take the strain off ears from face mask elastic. Today I hope to start printing face masks made from material with copper in it which kills all sorts of bacteria and bugs. I have also made visors for groups of local carers. The materials have been funded in part by my company and other bussinesses which I work with. Engineers I believe simply can’t help but get involved in society in ways to help improve – it’s in our blood.

    • Photo: Francis Batchelor

      Francis Batchelor answered on 20 May 2020:

      Our company makes plastic films and has increased the face shields and protective surfaces that we make.

      It used to be that our face shields were all made in a factory in America, but we adapted our factory in Scotland so that we could make even more for the UK and indeed the world. We managed to make the changes and produce enough plastic for 2 million face shields in 2 weeks. The difficult steps are then the transportation of these to the points where this material can be manufactured into the masks, and then the distribution out to the hospitals where they are needed.

      We also started making a lot of labelling. Paper labels will be destroyed if you try and wash them with sanitiser, but we are making plastic labelling for the NHS so that they can label everything they need and keep it sterilised.