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Last Updated 29th April 2020
Posted In: Community / Charity | Company News

Coronavirus PPE Visors

1,000 visors manufactured and supplied to health workers

An engineering firm from Gloucestershire has joined forces with GWP Group to manufacture critical PPE for the health and care workers.

Orthotropic Engineering, based in Quenington, Gloucestershire, has created the visors after building on work from the field of 3D printing. In total, one thousand of the face visors will be donated.

Having crowd-funded over £8,000 on Just Giving to cover the cost of materials, Orthotropic turned to packaging manufacturer GWP Group in order to produce various elements of the visors.

This included the fabrication of the foam used to provide protection from above, as well as the outer corrugated boxes used to ship the visors to the NHS.

Face visors for health workers
The assembled face visor designed and manufactured by Orthotropic Engineering and GWP Group

How the project started

The project initially started due to the urgent requirement for frontline medical staff and healthcare workers to be given PPE – personal protective equipment.

In light of the Coronavirus outbreak, one of the key products that were required in much greater numbers than previously was face visors. With health care workers putting themselves at risk in the fight against the virus, sourcing and / or manufacturing these took on a new urgency.

Matthew Dawson, Director at Orthotropic Engineering, commented;

Happy customers of GWP Group

Two weeks ago a friend of mine arrived for her shift at work. She is a locum doctor, taking on extra shifts to help out as much as she can during the Coronavirus crisis. When she arrived the only PPE available to her was a pair of plastic gloves. She is a friend, a wife, mother to two girls, a daughter and a sister, and she was helping patients with Covid 19 without the correct equipment

Funding the project

Although Orthotropic and GWP contributed their own time without charge, the parts and materials required for each visor was worked out to cost £8.

As a result, a Crowd Funding page on Just Giving was setup with the aim of raising £8000. This would allow for 1,000 visors to be manufactured and shipped to those that needed them as required.

The idea was simple – instead of giving a clap for carers, the fund raiser suggested giving cash to carers. The money that might have been spent buying a coffee on the way to work, parking the car or buying an Easter egg would be used instead to provide care workers the equipment and protection they needed.

Matthew Dawson, Orthotropic Engineering
Matthew Dawson, Orthotropic Engineering Director, wearing one of the face shields

Designing the visor

Established in November 2018, Orthotropic Engineering typically focuses on structural analysis and design, specialising in composite materials. So the creation of the visors was a significant divergence from their normal work.

Remarkably however, the actual design of the visor was created and prototyped in under a week.

Besides this setting up the supply chain, making and testing prototypes and even making the necessary contacts needed to get the visors into the system was also completed in a similarly quick time frame.

Flat packed face visor
The visor can be supplied "flat packed" for easy assembly when required

Mechanical testing of the headbands was also undertaken to ensure their safety and durability. During this process, it was found that the initial choice of acetal plastic used for the headband was prone to cracking during the cutting process, and was therefore changed to HDPE for the final versions.

Matthew Dawson, Director at Orthotropic commented;

Happy customers of GWP Group

Several companies and numerous enthusiasts had started using 3D printers to help make visors. Although this is a great initiative, 3D printing is a fairly slow process more suited to prototyping than serial production

He continued…

Happy customers of GWP Group

The visor we have created is an adaptation of an open-source design for 3-D printing. However, it can be manufactured immediately and rapidly in large quantities without the need for any bespoke tooling. It’s delivered to where it’s needed in flat-pack form for easy shipping and storage, and can easily be assembled for use in less than a minute.

Widespread visor manufacture

Besides this, the design for the visors has been uploaded to the Orthotropic website, meaning it is freely available for any manufacturing businesses to use in creating more of them if they are able to do so.

Matthew added;

Happy customers of GWP Group

Even though these visors will help, we believe there must be other people out there that could also manufacture them. Therefore, we’ve made the drawings available on our website for free download anywhere in the world. We will also gladly and freely provide the design files needed to get the parts cut

How GWP Group helped

With the crowd funding reaching over £8,000 on Just Giving – covering the cost of materials – Orthotropic approached GWP in order to help with production of various elements of the visors.

This included the fabrication of the foam to allow the visors to protect the wearers from above, as well as the outer corrugated boxes used to ship the visors to the NHS.

Ian Heskins, Business Development Director at GWP Group, said;

Happy customers of GWP Group

When we were approached by Matthew at Orthotropic we were only too happy to help. With the material costs covered by the crowdfunding, we were able to provide the manufacturing expertise and capacity at no cost

Matthew also commented;

Happy customers of GWP Group

We were genuinely blown away by the public response to our fundraising as well as the rapid and generous response of suppliers such as GWP

This is not the only project where GWP is looking to assist during the Coronavirus pandemic however.

Temporary Workspace Partitions, manufactured from Correx®, are also being supplied to a wide range of critical businesses to help with staff segregation and social distancing.

Having also supported Swindon Foodbank previously, plans are also underway to support the charity’s successor – Swindon Food Collective – with the packaging required to keep their logistics running as smoothly as possible during this challenging period.

Foam conversion process
Foam being converted at GWP Protectives' facility in Salisbury, Wiltshire

Find Out More

For further information on the project, you can visit the Orthotropic website.

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Matt Dobson, Marketing Manager at GWP Group

[email protected]
01793 754 444

About the Author: Matt Dobson

Marketing Manager | GWP Group

Matt has worked in the packaging industry for approximately 7 years, having joined GWP Group as Marketing Executive in 2012. [Read full bio…]

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