Cranfield's 3D printing facilities Image supplied by Cranfield University

Used by NHS staff and key workers at Milton Keynes University Hospital

Cranfield University’s Centre for Competitive Creative Design printing facilities (C4D/3DPrint) have been supporting local hospital communities to make hundreds of adjustable connectors for face masks.

They will be used by NHS staff and key workers at Milton Keynes University Hospital to protect their skin from damage and sores.

Worn for prolonged periods, the face masks can cause ear sores and discomfort. But they are an essential safety measure during the coronavirus pandemic, with most staff of all levels now required to wear face masks in clinical areas.

The simple plastic connectors are easily adjustable and help reduce the pressure of PPE face masks on the skin.

Connor Hart, senior technician at C4D/3DPrint, is leading the project. He said:

“We are pleased to be using our facilities to support NHS staff and key workers on the front line and to be a small part of the collective effort fighting Covid-19.”

Special permission was granted to open up the lab spaces on the campus.

The Cranfield team worked from a design supplied by the hospital to create two different-sized connectors. Susie Birchall, clinical procurement nurse at Milton Keynes University Hospital, said:

“Being in masks for 12 hours a day is creating problems for frontline staff in relation to skin irritation and sores. These simple items are currently invaluable to staff and are a fantastic way of easing the pressure they are currently facing. We’re very grateful for Cranfield University’s help and support.”

Cranfield café, Oso Coffee and Cake, supported the effort by supplying food free of charge to the team at the University site while they rapidly created the connectors.

The production of the connectors is another element of #CranfieldCommunity, a pan-University initiative highlighting the support staff and students are giving to each other and the wider community.

A box of connectors image supplied by Cranfield University