Council launches 3D printing labs to support COVID-19 response

Pupils may be safe at home, but the technical labs in two of East Ayrshire Council’s secondary schools are a hive of activity, producing Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) in support of the COVID-19 crisis.

Two 3D printing labs have been established at Stewarton Academy and Kilmarnock Academy.

Both labs are producing headpieces for reusable face shields, while the lab at Stewarton Academy is also producing disposable face shields using laser cutters.

This PPE will made available to the Health and Social Care Partnership and to Acute Services in NHS Ayrshire and Arran.

This joint project has been coordinated by Ian Burgoyne and Marjorie Harvie, from the Education Service with support from Sarah Cooper (Stewarton Academy), Tom Campbell (Kilmarnock Academy) and Neil Henderson (Loudoun Academy). Technical support was provided by Paul Dante, Derek Nicol, Martin Ronald, Calumn Shearer and Dale Grant, all from IT Services. The printers have been sourced from over 30 school locations across East Ayrshire and the 3D printing labs were established in just under two days.

Linda McAulay-Griffiths, Head of Education at East Ayrshire Council said:  “The project exemplifies the way we have adapted and transformed during the COVID-19 crisis. Across the Council we are pooling our skills and resources to do all we can to help those in need during this time, and I am continually being blown away by the creativity and flexibility being demonstrated by our teams.”

Erik Sutherland, Head of Locality Health & East Ayrshire Health and Social Care Partnership commended the efforts being made by schools. He said: “This is a fabulous initiative which shows how our communities are pulling together in facing up to this crisis – showing ingenuity and creativity. This is a valuable contribution to the collective effort in support of the health and social care workforce and the range of PPE that is required in different settings.”

Michael O’Neil, Clinical Scientist, QEUH Glasgow has been advising teachers on various aspects of the production and on effective utilisation of school 3D printers. The design of the shield was supplied by the NHS and modified for the school printers.

The labs are expected to produce over 150 reusable face shields per day, when operating at full capacity.