Engineers at the University of Plymouth are working alongside staff from Plympton-based Prestige Packaging to design and manufacture a new series of recyclable face shields.
Currently undergoing full testing and certification to ensure they meet BSI standards, 20,000 of the shields have been manufactured and are immediately available for procurement for use by healthcare workers. If there is sufficient demand, that number could rise to 100,000 a week.
The finished products can then be supplied directly to frontline workers in hospitals and other healthcare environments, but also used in shops, hairdressers and other settings as the COVID-19 lockdown begins to ease.
The initiative was first conceived by Dr Antony Robotham, Associate Professor in Mechanical Engineering at the University, with the aim of providing a safe form of protection for frontline staff that had the least possible environmental impact.
He then began working with Mike Corran, Managing Director of Prestige Packaging, and the company’s Designer Dave Lewis (who graduate from the University’s BA (Hons) Graphic Design with Typography course in 2011) to make a high-speed manufactured product which is cost effective, but also recyclable.
The finalised face shield is designed to provide eye and face protection against contamination to the eyes from respiratory droplets and splashing of secretions, including respiratory secretions. Its frame and strap are made from a folding boxboard that is 100% recyclable, 100% compostable and made from FSC-certified wood products. The anti-fog, anti-glare, see-through visor is made from a type of polyethylene terephthalate (PET) that is 100% recyclable and can be returned back into the production cycle.
Dr Robotham, who has been supported by the University’s Centre for Health Technology, International Marine Litter Research Unit and Research and Innovation Directorate, said: “Throughout this pandemic, the need for personal protective equipment for frontline staff has been well documented and it started me thinking if there was a way I could help. With our first year students, we run an activity where they have to design something using cardboard and laser cutters and my initial thoughts over the Easter weekend were based on that. The final design makes full use of high speed manufacturing processes and recycled and recyclable technical materials that will not only keep workers safe but have as little an impact on the environment as possible.”
Prestige Packaging has been supplying print and packaging for 25 years and offers a wide range of products all produced in-house.
Once the face shields have been constructed at their factory in Plympton, they will be packaged and delivered in a safe manner, minimising the risk to personnel involved at every stage of the process.
Mr Corran said: “Our business ethos is all about finding sustainable ways to produce packaging and other items. So when Antony approached us we were delighted to try and help the workers helping those affected by the virus. The technology we have in our factory is perfect for producing these face shields in large quantities and they can reach those needing them within 24 hours of an order being placed. As shops and other services start to open again after the lockdown, every employee should be protected in the workplace and these face shields offer health settings and private companies an effective, low-cost and environmentally friendly way to do that.”
Any organisations wanting to find out more about ordering the protective face shields can contact Mike Corran at Prestige Packaging on 01752 39 33 33, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.