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Marlborough House School

Marlborough House School makes PPE for the NHS

It has been a busy Easter Holidays for some at MHS, making and donating protective equipment, including goggles, face visors and ear guards, to help protect local NHS healthcare workers in the face of the Coronavirus pandemic.

Any existing PPE, including goggles from the Science laboratory and DT room, was boxed up at the end of term and taken to local GP surgeries. In addition, Dr Julie Speers, Head of Design Technology and SENDCO, started planning and ordering in materials to make protective face visors and ear guards to protect NHS and healthcare workers’ ears from the elastic on their facemasks. Using the school’s laser cutter and 3D printer, and in collaboration with her talented son Rowan, Dr Speers has started a remarkable MHS production line.

We really are all in this together and in challenging times such as these, we are incredibly grateful for examples of community spirit such as this. A huge MHS thank you to Dr Speers, Rowan Speers and everyone who has supported them. 

The visors will be distributed to the local NHS network, Weald Primary Care, and our amazing School Nurse, Mrs Rushton (pictured above and below) who is supporting a local care home.

AN INTERVIEW WITH DR SPEERS

How did Marlborough House become involved in making PPE for the NHS?

Access to PPE has been on the news so much and I know medical people in the NHS and Social Care, and they are saying PPE is limited. Within the professional Design Technology teaching community, we have been talking about how we can help; wanting to do something useful and practically achievable. Personally, I want to avoid plastic waste and so it is a question of balancing this with what is necessary. As a result, the MHS facemasks are reusable, waterproof and heat resistant.

How do you make a facemask?

There are three parts to the visor; a frame which goes around the head and a reinforcement strip at the base of the visor which we use the 3D printer to make. There is also transparent face shield which is laser cut in the DT workshop.

The design we are using is modified from that of a Czech company called Prusa, who have made several tested prototypes. The design is in the public domain for everyone to use as a result of the current health crisis.

What challenges have you faced?

3D printing is good for one-off, prototypes or small batch production, so not for mass production. It takes 1 hour and 58 minutes to 3D print one visor frame, as 3D printing is a slow process. In normal manufacturing, the complex parts would be injection moulded, but if we can come together as a creative and technical community to produce small amounts across country, we can have a positive impact.

Creative collaboration is an important process and one which I value within my classroom. On a project like this, normally you would meet with your team to discuss a problem face by the user, and then meet with people who will be using the products. Of course this has not been possible, though I have been working closely with my son, who is a product designer and seen the work of the DT team at Tonbridge School who are also producing PPE.

Where are you donating the PPE?

Through our school community I have been connected with Hawkhurst Help Group, who will be taking the PPE to the Weald Primary Care temporary facility at Headcorn Aerodrome, from where they will be distributed to the local NHS network. We are also providing care homes that have links with our school community with visors and ear guards.

What does this mean for Design Technology as a subject?

This really brings home the importance of Design Technology as a subject along with technical and creative collaboration. It is great to see the school’s technical teaching tools being put to use to support this national effort. It reinforces the practical application of the lessons we are teaching the children at MHS. The ability to use technical skills creatively and collaborate are key skills that help to equip our MHS children for life. 

Dr Speers at work:

 

The finished items: 

Protective visors

Ear guards in the MHS orange with our school logo on!