The response from the engineering industry to help in the fight against COVID-19 has been overwhelming. Companies from all sectors have stepped up to produce everything from ventilators and face masks to hand gels and more. Here, Jeremy Whittingham, Head of Community and Content at Advanced Engineering UK, highlights some of the generosity shown across the industry.
In the last stanza of Rudyard Kipling’s poem If, he writes: “If you can fill the unforgiving minute / With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run, / Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it." There is no doubt that the COVID-19 crisis has been unforgiving and unrelenting. At the same time, however, it has also shown the compassion and generosity of engineering and manufacturing businesses and individuals in equal measure.
In factories, kitchens, bedrooms and living rooms across the world, those with the means and the equipment, no matter how small, have been 3D printing, assembling and delivering PPE and other essential supplies to hospitals, care homes and frontline staff, around the clock.
Worcestershire-based, Central Scanning began 3D printing 500 face visors at the end of March 2020, the first batch of which went to Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham. When production quickly fell short of demand, the company purchased an injection moulding machine to produce in excess of 4,000 parts a day. This included the production of valve adaptors for use on hospital equipment used in the fight against COVID-19.
Essex-based, CNC machine manufacturer Blackman & White used the spare capacity in its demo room in Maldon to make face visors. The 28-strong company explained that its: “Orion and Genesis V machines can use dual motion control, state-of-the-art routers and laser capabilities to produce 300 units every day.”
Further afield, Berlin-based Leica Microsystems donated an advanced microscopy system to the Charité Institute of Virology in Berlin. The THUNDER 3D Live Cell imaging system will be used by scientists to deliver faster results and make the analysis of images easier, uncovering more information about the structural detail of the studied cells.
This is part of the research group’s aim to 'develop clinical strategies to treat the disease, by investigating how the virus enters cells, what exactly happens when human respiratory cells are infected, and how antiviral drug candidates would work'.
For those that want to help but lack the means to make PPE, a company called 3D Hubs can help. The global platform for distributed manufacturing explained: “If you are an engineer designing parts for COVID-19 related projects, but lacking the funds and production facilities to manufacture the parts, we invite you to apply to the COVID-19 Manufacturing Fund.
“If your project is accepted, we’ll ensure you receive the money, access to our global manufacturing network, as well as expert DfM feedback on your designs.”
Not only do these examples highlight the level of engineering excellence in the sector, they also show just how the community has pulled together in this difficult time. From everyone at Advanced Engineering UK, thank you.
These and other companies will be exhibiting in one of six show zones at Advanced Engineering UK, the annual gathering of OEMs and engineering supply chain professionals, from 4th-5th November, 2020 at the NEC in Birmingham.