MTI and partners produce visors for NHS and care sector

MIRA, NWSLC, MTI

The MIRA Technology Institute has answered the call from the British Medical Association to help fight against the coronavirus by producing face shields for use in local care settings.

Using equipment owned by the MTI and its partners, HORIBA MIRA and North Warwickshire and South Leicestershire College, a team of colleagues worked together to create the visors which were based on a free to use prototype made available by Prusa Research, a 3D printing company based in Prague.

The MTI and HORIBA MIRA pressed their 3D printers into service to create the headbands while HORIBA MIRA used its laser cutting equipment to produce the fully reusable polycarbonate face shields. MTI staff used sandpaper and hand files to fettle and assemble the visors for bagging and packing. More than 200 have already been made and distributed to care settings across the region.

Before formal PPE schemes were set up, Lisa Bingley, Operations Director at the MTI and Marion Plant, OBE FCGI, Chair of the MTI Operations Board, and Principal and Chief Executive North Warwickshire and South Leicestershire College, used their network of contacts to find local units in need of equipment and delivered to them directly.

Lisa Bingley, Operations Director at the MTI said, “We were only planning to make up to 250 initially but we have been successful in sourcing further donations of materials, so we will now make more. Donations have been received from our partners and suppliers and we are incredibly grateful for their support. It has been a fantastic team effort with some of us working from home and others taking their place in a production line set up here at the MTI.”

Oliver Grimmet, project engineer at HORIBA MIRA said, “We noticed people starting to produce PPE including face shields from 3D printer designs that had been shared online. The MTI contacted us to see if we could support them with production of the visors and, with our combined capabilities, we were able to go into production. I set up the printer to keep going overnight so we were able to keep up production 24 hours a day. The headband takes about two hours to print but the plastic face shield only takes a minute with a laser cutter.”

The visors are now being delivered throughout Warwickshire via the County Council’s scheme as well as directly to Coventry Health Centre, the Mary Ann Evans Hospice in Nuneaton, local GP practices, children’s and adult’s social care settings, pharmacists, prisons and also through the ppe4nhs scheme in Leicestershire.

Marion Plant said, “When I heard that there was a desperate need for PPE within the NHS, I approached Lisa to see if the MTI, with its close network of partners, would be able to produce these visors. NWSLC was only too happy to support in this project.

“The whole team should be applauded for doing this work, some of it in their own homes, while also keeping students on track during the lockdown period. Local hospices and care homes have been so grateful for this additional equipment at what is an exceedingly difficult time across the UK.”

Kevin Harris, Chair of the Leicester and Leicestershire Enterprise Partnership Limited (LLEP) said: “My sincere thanks are offered to MTI for taking quick action to support the national call for PPE. Their generous donation of visors to the local ppe4nhs campaign will go a long way to supporting key frontline staff in health care, social care and community support across Leicester and Leicestershire.”

The MTI is the result of a unique collaboration led by North Warwickshire and South Leicestershire College, and its partners, HORIBA MIRA, Coventry University, the University of Leicester, and Loughborough University. The facility was built with a £9.5m allocation from the Local Growth Fund, a pot of government funding awarded to the Leicester and Leicestershire Enterprise Partnership Limited (LLEP) for projects that benefit the local area and economy.

MTI is a specialist facility designed specifically to train the next generation of engineers in the latest automotive technology. The MTI is helping to create specialist skills in some of the new disruptive technology areas including electrification and driverless cars. The facility is located within the MIRA Technology Park Enterprise Zone, Europe’s leading location for mobility R & D and developing the latest automotive technologies.

Since it first opened its doors in 2018, the MTI has welcomed over 8,000 students and delegates. This includes over 630 studying for accredited qualifications from a Level 1 Institute of the Motor Industry certificate up to Masters’ degrees, and nearly 250 following apprenticeships at all levels.

The MTI building is temporarily closed during the coronavirus lockdown, but students are being supported remotely to continue their studies and complete their qualifications.

Businesses able to make or donate PPE to support the local need can contact ppe4nhs@hotmail.com