Inventing our way out of a crisis
Reading the news is not for the faint of heart at the moment, but the wonderful stories of innovation and collaboration, with talented people working together to fight the pandemic, are keeping us going. These moments of triumph in this time of adversity are so uplifting we wanted to share some of our favourites.
Schools 3D printing PPE for the NHS
As well as pivoting to distance learning in the space of a week, setting up skeleton schools and dealing with the avalanche of administration all of this creates, educators are also using their resources to help NHS staff. Schools across the UK are using their DT power to make Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for NHS staff. King Henry VIII school in Coventry and Ladybridge High School in Bolton are two of the schools working hard to help. With 3D printers and a healthy dose of goodwill, with donations from local companies and people, more than 3,000 masks have been delivered to NHS workers from King Henry VIII School alone. What an extraordinary effort!
Telford’s Protolabs’ international co-operation
British and Italian engineers are joining forces in the fight against Covid-19. Telford’s Protolabs is working with Brescia-based Isinnova, whose team has designed a valve that converts a full-face snorkel mask into a non-invasive ventilator. Protolabs is 3D-printing the valves that enables healthcare teams to use these masks for Covid-19 patients, moulding parts for Covid-19 testing kits and is involved in the development of casings for patient ventilators. Superb effort from British engineering’s finest!
Ingenious school children
While some families are struggling with home schooling, one Canadian schoolboy has turned his attentions to making guards to protect health workers’ ears when they have to wear masks all day. He has shared the design files online and people all over the world are now putting their 3D printers to work to make more of them. It makes us wonder what else this period of liberation from the classroom will prompt.
Mercedes F1 team
A few weeks ago, if anyone had suggested that Formula 1 would step up to join the coronavirus fight you might have wondered how. But the engineering might of the Mercedes F1 team, combined with the ingenuity of some extremely clever people at University College London, led to the rapid re-engineering and manufacture of a Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) mask.
This mask helps inflate people’s lungs and may, it is hoped, avoid the need for some people to go on to a ventilator. The team took the idea from concept to approval in ten days and are now manufacturing 1,000 a day. A truly extraordinary achievement and possibly even more exciting than very fast cars.
Hands-free door openers
When did you last wash your hands? And then touch something and immediately feel like you should wash them again? When visiting his wife in hospital, Wyn Griffiths found he had to touch door handles straight after he had sanitised his hands, so he invented a hook you can thread your arm through to open the door to avoid touching it. Genius!
Eighties fashion is the ultimate boomerang; it just keeps coming back and there’s nothing you can do to stop it. Only this time it’s fighting disease. The antiviral snood, made by Virustatic Shield, is reusable, washable, traps and kills 96% of viruses. Something tells us that it may be the must-have fashion accessory this season.
Local councils call for PPE donations
The sudden increase in demand for PPE has made it difficult for manufacturers to keep up with demand, so local companies are being asked to donate any PPE they may already have in stock. Spaceoasis® is donating what we have to Telford and Wrekin council and urge any other companies that can help to do the same.
The icing on the cake
These are just a few examples of the extraordinary ingenuity we’re seeing in this crisis. Companies are learning how to work remotely, even for roles that were previously tethered to the office. Schools are being forced to deliver online learning, something that was only really talked about in theoretical terms before. We are starting to wonder what the long-term impact of these changes will be and how our time together in places of work and learning will evolve. With what we’ve learned, would going back to the same old same old seems like a retrograde step?