Ricoh 3D producing 40,000 face shields a week as part of COVID-19 response

COVID-19: Our members taking responsible business action

Business in the Community (BITC) member Ricoh 3D is producing 40,000 face shields a week for NHS workers, designed to improve comfort and offer a re-usable solution to cut long-term costs.

Ricoh 3D, based in Telford is working with medical trusts and care providers across the UK, after working around the clock to get effective protective equipment to the frontline last month using the rapid prototyping capabilities of additive manufacturing.

“Our site is uniquely set up to take a product from concept to prototype to serial production, and that is exactly what we have done here in a very short timeframe

Mark Dickin, Additive Marketing Manufacturing & Moulding Specialist

The first prototype was printed and assembled in less than 24 hours thanks to 3D printing technology and the strength of Ricoh’s supplier network.

This followed appeals that in London alone more than 150,000 face guards would be used every day in the battle against COVID-19. Nurses across the world have been posting pictures of their bruised faces after wearing a protective face mask for hours on shift.

Ricoh quickly upscaled to full production utilising a 150-tonne injection moulding machine to manufacture more than 40,000 face guards a week.

3D printing and injection moulding are the perfect partner technologies in the fight against COVID-19, allowing Ricoh to maintain full production while keeping staff safe by having only one or two people on site.

Mark Dickin, Additive Manufacturing and Moulding Specialist at Ricoh 3D, said: “Our site is uniquely set up to take a product from concept to prototype to serial production, and that is exactly what we have done here in a very short timeframe. This really is testimony to the strength of our supplier relations and the cross-functional team who made it happen so quickly. Local suppliers for the foam, elastic strapping and visor components have come forward across our production print, design solutions and quality assurance networks.”

“We were seeing reports of nurses faces being cut and bruised by their existing protective equipment. Our frontline workers are battling enough already, without having to tend to sore and swollen faces at the end of a 12-hour shift.”

“We knew our Polypropylene material was ideally suited for the job with its flexible, lightweight, watertight and fatigue resistant nature. It really makes us proud to hear from nurses and care workers the difference the improved design has made to their comfort.”

“Currently, hospitals are disposing of masks approximately every one to four hours and we’ve looked very closely at how we can half their volumes by giving staff the ability to re-use the headband component.

“Ricoh 3D has been reaching out to hospitals across the UK in the hope that together we can make a difference and help our communities.”