Unmasked — the enterprising locals who provided us with essential PPE

We’re so grateful to the creative individuals and businesses who have donated PPE to Martlets, made using their 3D printers. This vital equipment continues to help protect our staff and patients.

At the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, personal protective equipment (PPE) was in short supply across the country. But thanks to some enterprising locals, Martlets was supplied with essential PPE to help keep everyone protected.

John Richards, our volunteering strategy project lead, says people went the extra mile to keep Martlets supplied:

“We have had well over a hundred different donations during the pandemic. PPE items including visors, ear thermometers, masks, scrubs and other protective clothing. Also, various other donations to support our staff and patients including cleaning products, drinks, hand creams, food, chocolate…even a Nintendo Wii and games from a local resident.

Some people were complete stars. Bob, a gentleman in his eighties over in Woodingdean, made head visors in his garage using a special design. And Cardinal Newman School and Uni student Emmanuel Oyemade made face protectors using their 3D printers. Brighton PPE Mutual Aid and Brighton Food Bank also donated PPE to us, along with food and bottled water. A big shout out to local vets and dentists for their contributions too. And there were many others who helped us. Thank you all.”

Emmanuel’s story

“I’m a second year Product Design student at the University of Sussex. At the start of the pandemic I was hearing the stories of the doctors and nurses in desperate need of PPE. I watched a report on how people in America were using 3D printers to make face shields. I was sitting there thinking I’ve got a 3D printer right next to me. There’s no reason why I can’t do this as well to help.

I decided to GoFundMe to raise enough money to cover the costs. Then I would donate them free of charge because I knew they were in high demand and would help keep people safe. My initial goal was to make 100 face shields, but I actually made and delivered 480. They were all disinfected, packaged and delivered and I sent several batches to Martlets. I planned to raise £500, but received £905 in donations. I’ll be donating the rest to various charities.

How 3D printing works

A 3D printer takes spools of plastic, a bit like a long roll of string. Then it melts that plastic into the shape you want. When I first started on the face shields, I had a design that took me about two hours and forty minutes to print just one. After doing some research online and modifying some designs, I drastically dropped that print time down to one hour. Eventually, I got the print time down further by tweaking some settings on my computer programme. Then it only took around 20 minutes to print each one. On a good day of printing I could probably get about 30 done in one day.

The design I’ve been using is open source and has been approved for use. There’s guidance online on how to make them and what you need to do in terms of disinfecting them.

I’ve had some emails from healthcare staff saying thank you so much. It’s been great to see photos coming through of nurses and doctors wearing them. It’s really humbling to see. I’m just grateful that it’s something I could do to give them extra confidence and protection while working on the frontline.

The Instagram page where I post my pictures and videos related to 3D printing: https://www.instagram.com/official_oyesk/