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News > Science & Technology > Tonbridge School DT Lab creates protective masks for NHS staff

Tonbridge School DT Lab creates protective masks for NHS staff

The Tonbridge School DT Lab is busy creating new face shields and current boy works on 3D printed face guards to help protect the NHS staff

Design expertise used for much-needed face masks
Tonbridge School staff, parents and boys are working with local businesses on urgent initiatives to supply protective masks to key workers in the NHS.
In Tonbridge, a working party was set up in response to a request from Dr Nicki Perry at NHS West Kent to investigate the production of face guards. These will help protect the NHS staff who will be manning the NHS Assessment Centre now in operation at the Tonbridge School Centre.

The group includes Deputy Head Co-Curricular James Fisher; Design Technology Teacher, WW Housemaster and OT Will Biddle (PH 76-81); Dr Nicola Perry, NHS West Kent; Mike and Lucy Piercy from The New Beacon School; and Rob Llewellyn co-founder of Digital Spring.
A design has been developed and approved and is going into production in the Design Technology Department at Tonbridge School. A small team is in place to manufacture and assemble the items while following strict social distancing guidelines.
Will Biddle, Design Technology Teacher and Whitworth Housemaster, said: “We came up with a really simple design and we can quite easily and quickly manufacture these in the school workshop in a cost-efficient manner, with a few helping hands.”

The face guards have been delivered in time for the opening of the Assessment Centre this week. The team are currently producing up to 200 face shields per day and are now also supplying other NHS agencies in the South East.

As Will Biddle explained: “We hope that the design can be rolled out to other UK schools through a website our team has set up,, which has step-by-step manufacturing information, CAD files and usage guidance, so that each school can support their local NHS Trusts as much as possible.”

“The masks make use of materials and equipment that DT departments in schools probably already have. We also recommend that, as and when schools do get production under way, they contact their local NHS so that both parties are in touch and up to date.”

The website has full instructions on how to how to make protective masks cheaply and easily in a school workshop equipped with a laser cutter, and Tonbridge is sharing the details of the site with other schools and Design Technology departments. “The key thing is that schools take up the baton and start to make these masks for their local communities,” Will Biddle added.

Link to BBC Article posted 27 March 2020
Link to Telegraph Article posted 3 April 2020

Updated: 6 April 2020

3D Printing could also help with the shortage of face masks
Meanwhile current student Jack Raynor (WW5) is one of the founding member of 3D Crowd – a group of volunteers with 3D printers in their homes who are getting together across the country to produce 3D printed face shields in large volumes for the NHS.

In just 48 hours, 3DCrowd have pulled together a network of more than 150 people across the UK to manufacture components which are then assembled and distributed to the NHS.

Their first delivery of 150 masks was made to a Brighton hospital yesterday, however many more are needed.

As Jack explained: “the challenge is to find out whether the visors can be sterilised for reuse because masks currently should be thrown away after one use.  Tests are being conducted with plastics that can withstand high temperatures, to see whether they can be re-used safely.”

Jack is responsible for the project’s GoFundMe page which has raised over £9,000 in its first 72 hours, allowing the team to buy more plastic print consumables for making the frames, and to purchase 80,000 transparent visors.

The team has also struck a deal with a London-based manufacturer with an empty pharmaceutical facility which will be used to store parts from across the country and assemble the face shields under sterile conditions, for distribution to hospitals nationwide.

3DCrowd has also set up a website through which the NHS can place orders and 3,000 orders have already been received.
GoFundMe Link here
Updated: 30 March 2020


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