A TEAM of manufacturing experts have been working tirelessly over recent days to produce a suite of products to cut the spread of COVID-19 across NHS buildings and workplaces.
Staff from the University of Sunderland’s Institute for Automotive and Manufacturing Advanced Practice, AMAP, and the ERDF-funded Sustainable Advanced Manufacturing Project, SAM, have already developed two, 3D-printed and laser cut, products that will help prevent the spread of the virus, and are now urging fellow manufacturers to follow suit.
This includes a prototype door handle attachment that helps people open doors with their forearm as opposed to their hands, and a personal door opening device, available as both laser cut and 3D printed designs, which acts as a personal and portable hook used to open door handles – both products help minimise the number of times people have to touch shared workplace items and surfaces.
Head of AMAP and SAM Technical Lead Roger O’Brien, is leading the technical team who are sharing the product design files free-of-charge to allow manufacturers to produce their own versions, as well as producing products at material-cost for organisations without the technology required to produce their own. This has already included the SAM projects laser cutting machine supplier (Trotec) sharing the team from Sunderland’s design with their own global user and install base.
Speaking about their work so far, Roger said: “As the Coronavirus continues to spread at unprecedented rates, manufacturers the across the country can help by stepping up and channel as much of their energy as they possibly can, given the difficult times and challenges they now face, to help tackle this pandemic.
“We’ve already seen a host of manufacturers, as well as organisations like ours register to rise to the Government’s challenge to produce extra ventilators for the NHS, which has been incredible to see. However, there’s no reason why others cannot join the efforts by helping and using their manufacturing equipment to support and assist in other or novel ways.
“We all have a part to play and that’s why we’re establishing a consortium of manufacturing organisations, both SMEs and larger companies, to respond to the various challenges posed by Coronavirus. We urge any company interested in getting involved to get in touch with us via our websites or offices.”
SAM is a £5.1m programme part-funded by ERDF (£2.6m) and the University of Sunderland, which has invested £2.5m and is managing the delivery of the project, aimed at providing expert-knowledge and grants to small and medium sized manufacturers across the North East LEP area.
This investment included the creation of a £1m micro-factories at The Industry Centre, which features industry-leading advanced technology and equipment such as additive manufacturing machinery (industrial 3D Printers) it its prototype factory, process improvement, digital, production and automation, including access to software, CNC machines. laser cutting, robotics, cobots and much, much more.
It’s from these facilities – dubbed the ‘factories’ by the team at SAM – that Roger and his team of experts from the University, SAM and AMAP have been working to create prototypes over the past few days – and the team is confident that there are more designs to follow.
“The factories were set up to showcase to the region’s SME manufacturers how the newest technologies and processes can help improve productivity, reduce costs and bring new products and innovations to market, so it’s proven to be the perfect environment for us to set up base and trial these new products,” Roger added.
“However, we are very aware that more must be done to help reduce the spread of this deadly virus, which is why we’re working around the clock to try and bring new ideas and prototypes to market – and would like to again stress that any manufacturers who would like to get involved contact us to see how they can support the effort.”
The designs can be found and downloaded from the internet via:
- 3D printed personal door opener: https://www.thingiverse.com/thing:4231303
- Laser cut personal door opener: https://www.thingiverse.com/thing:4229794
- 3D printed no touch door handle attachment: https://www.thingiverse.com/thing:4231922