Uniting passion and skills to help support health workers

Cisco is working with local organisations and volunteers to print protective face visors for health service providers in Reading, England. 

People can quickly come together when their community is impacted. This couldn’t be truer for small business owner – Alex Gibson – of Edumaker, a 3D printing company in Reading, England. Aware there was a lack of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) in the field for health service workers, he offered to donate his knowledge and printers to help print protective face visors. However, it needed a team of dynamic thinkers with complimentary skill sets to quickly make it happen.

Alex got in touch with an online engineering community in Reading, that has tools for the members of the local community to use. He wanted to find out if others had the resources to help him make the face visors. Matthew Richards, a product engineering manager for Cisco, along engineers from RACE, a business unit of the UK Atomic Energy Authority, offered their support. Reading University and Oxford Academic Health Science Network also agreed to be networking partners.

Matthew’s a National Health Service (NHS) Community First Responder with South Central Ambulance Service, as well as an engineer, so he was happy to help lead this project as it’s very close to his heart. With Cisco’s facilities and resources, he’s been able to set up a ‘safe environment’ 24/7 printing facility at Green Park with over thirty 3D printers that have been donated by Alex and other members of the local community.* One hundred and thirteen Cisco volunteers were also trained and worked shifts this past week to produce the face visors. 

This team of collaborators worked with independent Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) consultants’ Dr João de Barros and Dr Richard Brydges to design, document, and approve the manufacturing procedures and processes. Their work has been pulled into an information pack, with the intent of making this open source, so other printers can use it. 

Seventeen local General Practitioners (GP) surgeries are now using the face visors and kindly distributing them to other health service providers in the area. We are ramping up to printing 300 plus visors a day, to help support local NHS trusts.

By making the most of the resources that we have, this project has come together in just a week. Because of kind-hearted people like Alex, Matthew, the UK Atomic Energy Authority, the GMP consultants, Reading University, Oxford Academic Health Science Network, volunteers from Cisco and members of the local community in Reading we are able to help others in need. 

*Companies include: The Curious Lounge, Handy Dan's 3D prints, Tocabot.

How it began and scaled within days

  • Alex Gibson - who owns Edumaker, a 3D printing consultancy - offered to donate his knowledge and printers to help print protective face visors
  • As a member of a local engineering community, he engaged its forum to see if others had the resources to help him make the face visors. Matthew Richards, a product engineering manager for Cisco, offered support, along with engineers from RACE, a business unit of the UK Atomic Energy Authority
  • The first protypes were printed onsite last Wednesday (25/03) and have scaled to over 100 a day already; soon to be 300 a day. There are now 31 3D printers in place
  • Masks have been delivered to 19 NHS organisations; including to Dr Mark Green at Mortimer Surgery in Reading and Dr Rupert Woolley, Pangbourne Surgery
  • 113 Cisco volunteers have also been trained and working shifts this past week to produce the face visor

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