Wednesday, 22 Apr 2020 10:24 GMT

Stepping up to the plate

A number of print businesses have come forward in order to stand alongside front line workers in the NHS.

Over the last few weeks, Print Monthly has witnessed several print and sign companies produce PPE (personal protective equipment) for NHS staff and healthcare workers.

Despite calls for the UK Government to provide more PPE, staff still find themselves in short supply and this is where the print industry has stepped up.

Antalis, Ricoh and Leeds-based Imageco are just three of the companies to offer their services to the production of PPE and more.

Faye McCallum is the creative designer and prop maker for Data Reprographics, who, after a friend asked for her help and skills to produce face masks, turned to Antalis for materials in order to do so. Antalis and other companies donated the necessary material including foamalite, a clear recycled PET. McCallum is currently working on the PPE donations from home and was able to donate 2,000 masks to hospitals across north and west London.

Faye McCallum of Data Reprographics turned to Antalis for materials to help her create face masks for hospitals in London

Elsewhere and in Telford, Ricoh has been using its 3D printing technology to also create face masks for NHS staff. Ricoh has been able to produce around 40,000 face shields a week for nurses and doctors and other health care workers.

Mark Dickin, additive manufacturing and moulding specialist, Ricoh 3D, explains: “Our site is uniquely set up to take a product from concept to prototype to serial production, and that is exactly what we have done here in a very short timeframe. This really is a testimony to the strength of our supplier relations and the cross-functional team who made it happen so quickly.

I wanted us to use our creativity and technology to assist in the crisis. It would be easy to sit back and do nothing

“Local suppliers for the foam, elastic strapping and visor components have come forward across our production print, design solutions and quality assurance networks. We were seeing reports of nurses’ faces being cut and bruised by their existing protective equipment. Our frontline workers are battling enough already, without having to tend to sore and swollen faces at the end of a 12-hour shift. We knew our Polypropylene material was ideally suited for the job with its flexible, lightweight, watertight and fatigue resistant nature. Given its comparable properties to injection moulding, we had no doubts that this was the right material to support the transition to full moulded production.”

Ricoh has been using 3D print to create 40,000 face shields a week for doctors, nurses and staff on the front line of the NHS

In the north of the country, Imageco has also risen to the challenge of keeping front line workers safe during this time. Despite being immersed in wide-format print, Imageco has worked to produce not only PPE, but hand sanitising solutions, social distancing signage and more. The Leeds-based company has already donated 50 protective masks to the Neuro Acute Ward at Leeds General Infirmary and 20 to Bywater Hall and Lodge care home. Stickers have also been produced to help raise further funds.

Imageco has also been working with local supermarkets to produce social distancing signage, hand sanitiser stations and anti-bacterial stickers.

Nathan Swinson-Bullough, director of Imageco, comments: “I wanted us to use our creativity and technology to assist in the crisis. It would be easy to sit back and do nothing. Our initial thoughts were ‘shall we fill our vans with toilet roll and deliver to the need?’ Then we sat down as a team and really thought about creative ways that would benefit others while being able to sustain our business through the crisis. I saw balancing live work with product donations as a good path to choose.”

He concludes: “This is the least we can do; our thoughts go out to all the staff on the front line and the families affected by this awful crisis.”

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