A school and an engineer have used their specialised equipment to create protective gear for the region’s key workers.
Joe Skinner, 24, has used his 3D printer to create plastic headbands which can be fitted with film to create sturdy masks which will be donated to those who need them most.
Joe, a project engineer for JBS Fabrication, has made about 30 headbands and is hoping to have enough for local deliveries.
The Peterhead man jumped into action after feeling helpless stuck at home with time on his hands.
He said: “I saw that workers who required the equipment to do their job properly were struggling to procure them, so I wondered how I could help.
“I’ve already got one 3D printer and have been using it to create plastic headbands which can be used to create a face mask.
“You just add film on to it. I’ve ordered some projector film, and it creates a sturdy face mask that be used for a while without breaking apart.
“When I asked online about who needed them I got a massive response – more than 100 replies – so I’m trying to make as many as I can before delivering them later in the week.”
Joe launched a crowdfunder campaign to buy another 3D printer to help with creating more.
The money raised has helped him buy five more 3D printers.Currently, he is able to make two an hour – but with a second machine he would be able to up that to five every 60 minutes.
Joe, who is using a design that is freely accessible online, said: “I’ve got about 900 sheets of film so the plan is to sterilise all the equipment then include three sheets with the headband and include instructions on how to construct it.
“We are all stuck in the same situation at home feeling helpless but I’ve got the tools so I am almost obliged to help out in some way.
“The feedback from the community has motivated me even more to go ahead and do this.”
Joe has raised £3,210, which is well over his target of £500.
Any extra money he makes will go towards equipment needed for constructing the protective gear and also be donated to the NHS.
Peterhead Area Community Trust has offered Joe their pavillion in which to make the masks. Two more 3D printing enthusiasts will help from home.
He has enough material for 466 products but wants to get more.
Meanwhile, Staff at Banff Academy have been involved in creating face masks for those in need.
Principal teacher of design and technology Caroline McFarlane and colleagues Caitlin Paton and Roisin Steele made the equipment using materials in school and a laser cutter.
They have created almost 150 face masks, with Aberdeenshire Council collecting them and handing them out to key workers.
The aim is to create 600 in total.
An appeal on social media for more materials has been successful, meaning the team can work towards its target of creating many hundreds of face shields.
Head teacher Alan Horberry said: “They are making as many as possible, as quickly as possible, using materials from the school including projector film and the laser cutter.
“I am proud of what they have done and delighted about the tremendous initiative they have used to produce so many.
“Our call for more materials generated a huge response with local people and will help them create even more.”
Caroline added: “There is such strong demand for this sort of equipment that we really wanted to do something to support all those who are working so hard on the frontline in the battle against Covid-19.
“The face shields – although not to medical grade – will provide a basic physical barrier for people who are continuing to work in a variety of frontline-facing services across our local communities.”
Meanwhile, an Aberdeen-based workwear clothing manufacturer is also tackling the PPE shortage.
North East Rig Out (Nero) appealed to businesses and people to donate any unused masks, gloves or protective clothing to the firm so they can donate them to NHS Grampian.
The company received more than 5,000 pieces of kit which have been handed to ambulance crews and the A&E department at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary.
Among the most vital items are FFP3 masks, which offer high protection.
Nero operations manager Clark Peacock revealed the firm got involved with collecting donations after seeing a post about NHS staff struggling to find safety glasses and gloves online.
He said: “I spoke to a few frontline staff about the problem and then we started an online campaign to allow people to donate gear to our warehouse.
“One of the big things for us is the disposable FFP3 masks, which were like gold dust to some key workers. On Sunday we delivered a load to the A&E department.”